Calgary Flames 4 LA Kings 1
Don’t let the final score fool you: this wasn’t some start to finish dominating win by the Calgary Flames. The good guys actually struggled for a good portion of this game until their 3rd period magic turned what was a relatively boring game into a 4-1 victory.
This one looked like it was going to be be a blowout early. Less than a minute into the first period Mikael Backlund fired a long distance wrister that somehow beat Calvin Petersen and all of a sudden it’s looking like the Flames are going to have their way with the Kings. Hold the phone. LA clogged the neutral zone and forced the Flames to play their style of hockey: boring and offensively challenged. The Kings can’t put pucks in the net so they did what they do best and that was grind the game to a hault and hope for some cheap goals. It worked.
Calgary gave up their one goal lead when Adrian Kempe would somehow find enough space between Mike Smith’s jersey and the post, tying this game at 1-1. That goal had the potential to send Smith and the Flames spiraling out of control, but it didn’t. The NHL vet made a few more stops keeping the Flames tied at 1 and then the 3rd period happened.
Johnny Gaudreau was having a tough night heading into the final 20 minutes. He’d already hit 2 posts and it wouldn’t be long before the Flames star would draw iron again, still unable to find the back of the net. Each shot that hit the post was a beauty and an inch here or there and this game was over. So it would only make sense that Gaudreau would give the Flames a 2-1 lead on the ugliest chance he had all night. Gaudreau would creep in, uncovered, to the bottom of the face off circle and backhand a loose puck in, collecting his 10th marker of the season (PPG), putting the Flames up 2-1. Mikael Backlund and Sean Monahan would add empty net goals in the final minute and Clagary would survive the Kings 4-1.
1st: 00:46- Backlund (4) (Bennett/Brodie)
3rd: 7:44- PPG Gaudreau (10) (Lindholm/Tkachuk), 19:28- Empty Net Backlund (5) (Tkachuk/Lindholm), 19:52- Empty Net Monahan (14) (Backlund)
2nd: 13:41- Kempe (3) (Wagner)
It wasn’t pretty that’s for sure, but Calgary found a way to get it done. Gaudreau kept digging and was finally able to score and Mike Smith came up with one HUGE blocker save to keep the game tied late in the 3rd.
Smith was average tonight and that’s all the Flames needed him to be. He needed to make a save or two when the Flames needed some help and he provided just that. Smith stopped 13 of the 14 shots he saw and you know he wants that lone goal back. Friday night was another step in the right direction for Smith, even if it’s just to build his confidence.
Flame Of The Game
Mikael Backlund: Backlund had 2 goals on the night, an assist, 4 SOG and was 9/15 at the face off dot.
12/2: Calgary Flames @ Chicago Blackhawks, 5 PM MT