The Flames came into Chicago looking to win their second straight game and their second in a row over Chicago and both of those goals were accomplished. The Flames opened up their mini 2 game road trip with a hard fought 3-2 victory over the slumping Blackhawks, but it wasn’t easy.
Calgary opened up the scoring in the first period when Sean Monahan would collect a rebound and tuck the puck past Corey Crawford to give the Flames a 1-0 lead. The Flames top line was buzzing all night long, but they were a nuisance to the Blackhawks in the first, as was the rest of the team. Calgary out-shot Chicago 18-6 in the first and that was a sign of more to come.
Calgary came out hot in the second period as well, but there was a little more push back from Chicago...literally. At 7:08 of the second period Chris Kunitz would drill Travis Hamonic with a cheap shot elbow sending the Flames defenceman to the locker room for repairs. The hit would also send Kunitz to the locker room as well.....for the rest of the game. Calgary would snag a 5 minute PP for the hit and Kunitz would get the gate with a 10 minute game misconduct and the Flames would make Chicago pay. The Flames would score twice during the 5 minute man advantage, in effect putting the game away halfway through the period. Elias Lindholm would score first, but it would take a few to actually get the goal. After a phone call from Toronto video replay would confirm that Crawford made the “save” with his trapper well into the net and the Flames would take a 2-1 lead. A little over a minute later Derek Ryan would blast a shot past Crawford on the PP and the Flames would grab a 3-1 lead that they would hold until Dylan Strome would score, collecting his 5th of the season. Fortunately for the Flames that was it for Chicago and there was a good reason why.....
Mike Smith. Smith was brilliant in the third period and honestly for most of the game. Smith stopped multiple breakaways and his 3rd period skate save, that somehow kept a puck out of the net around the 5 minute mark was something Flames fans will be talking about for a while. Smith was a little more mobile tonight and looked much more confident than he has in his previous 2 starts. It’s almost like Smith has gotten his mojo back and tonight was a good litmus test. He was tested with better quality opportunities tonight, stopping 22 of the 24 shots he faced. Chicago really made it interesting the 3rd, but Smitty kept all 8 shots out of the back of the net.
1st: 10:07- Monahan (15) (Gaudreau/Lindholm)
2nd: 7:18- (PPG) Lindholm (12) (Gaudreau/Monahan), 8:44- (PPG) Ryan (4) (Hanifin/Neal)
1st: 11:33- Toews (12) (unassisted)
2nd: 15:45- (PPG) Strome (5) (DeBrincat/Crawford)
The Flames got a very solid performance all around tonight from top to bottom. The PP unit was 2-6 and the PK was 3-4. Andrew Mangiapane played VERY well tonight in his first NHL game of the season. Derek Ryan was very solid. Garnet Hathaway is becoming a quality option on the PK. Mark Giordano was once again close to the best player on the ice. James Neal also had the type of game that may start to get him over the hump. And Travis Hamonic took that vicious elbow in the second period, got cleaned up and had a huge blocked shot at the end of the game.
Not to be lost in the shuffle was the play of Corey Crawford. He handled 38 of the 41 shots that came his way and there weren’t too many cupcakes over the 60 minutes. You have to tip your cap when the other team has a performance like that and Crawford had one of those games, despite losing 3-2.
All in all, there were some rough spots (multiple breakaways), but this was a solid win for the Flames which bumped their record to 16-9-2 and got them back into 1st place in the Pacific.
Flame Of The Game
Mike Smith (G). What else needs to be said about Smith? He directly kept the Flames in this contest by making 2 huge saves in the final 5 minutes of the game. With Rittich’s play and Smith getting better each and every game, goaltending may not be a problem anymore.
12/4: Calgary Flames @ Columbus Blue Jackets 5 PM MT