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Calgary Flames (4) @ Winnipeg Jets (1): Gaudreau and Rittich Lead Flames Past Jets

David Rittich was a brick wall and Johnny Gaudreau potted a hat trick to lead the Flames past Winnipeg.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames 4 - Winnipeg Jets 1

Complete Stats

Recap

If you wanted a playoff type atmosphere, well this game certainly provided that. The Flames and Jets battled it out for 60 minutes and when it was all said and done, Calgary walked away with a hard earned 4-1 victory over the top team in the West. The victory also snapped a three game losing streak for the good guys.

Both teams looked a little rusty after the holiday break early on in the game, but one spot that wasn’t rusty were the two guys between the pipes. While Connor Hellebuyck surrendered 3 goals on the night, he stopped 24 of the 27 shots that came his way. The first goal he gave up to Johnny Gaudreau was deflected off a skate, but he played fairly well when Winnipeg needed him too. The problem was the guy at the other end of the ice was just that much better. David Rittich handled 35 of the 36 shots he faced and we’d be lying if 10 of them weren’t highlight reel material.

Calgary’s offence kicked it into gear after a Alan Quine turnover lead to a Winnipeg goal which tied it at 1-1. Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm worked their magic as Gaudreau danced his way to the crease and slid a backhand goal past Hellebuyck, giving the Flames a 2-1 lead. Late in the third period Lindholm and Mark Jankowski can streaking in and buried his 5th goal of the seaon to get the Flames ahead by two. Johnny Gaudreau would finish off the scoring with an empty net goal with 1:06 left, getting the Flames a 4-1 lead and his 4th career hat trick.

Scoring

Calgary Flames

1st: None

2nd: 1:04- Gaudreau (17) (Monahan), 18:47- Gaudreau (18) (Lindholm/Monahan)

3rd: 15:39- (SHG) Jankowski (5) (Lindholm/Hamonic), 17:54- Gaudreau (19) (Monahan/Giordano)

Winnipeg Jets

1st: None

2nd: 17:53- Lowry (6) (unassisted)

3rd: None

Final Thoughts

The Flames went toe to toe with the Jets tonight and climbed to within one point of first place Winnipeg in the Western Conference. Calgary played the speed game with Winnipeg tonight. They played the physical game. And in the end they had the best goalkeeper on the ice.

The Flames took a game tonight from Winnipeg where the Jets out shot Calgary (36-28), out hit the Flames (20-14) and won 59.6% of their faceoffs on the night. When you look at the stats and Calgary’s first period you would think that Winnipeg would have taken this one, but that was clearly not the case. David Rittich was clearly the difference maker and his stellar goaltending was one, if not the major reason the Flames walked away with a 4-1 victory.

What has to be exciting for the team and the fanbase is how the Flames play against the league’s best teams and how slow starts turn into quality wins. The “Big 3” had a HUGE hand in this victory. Johnny Gaudreau had a hat trick. Elias Lindholm had two assists and Sean Monahan had a three assist night as well. There really wasn’t one line out there that didn’t perform for the Flames tonight. And that is going to be key for the Flames from here on out: everyone needs to contribute for this run of success to continue.

This game at times got chippy and a little rough and Johnny Gaudreau’s third goal of the night epitomized this. Gaudreau skated circles around Dustin Byfuglien and instead of trying to get back into the play, Byfuglien just straight up slashed Gaudreau in the upper arm. Johnny Gaudreau was able to finish off the play and score, but he left the ice right away and didn’t return. Byfuglien served a 2:00 slashing penalty, but we can only hope that any type of injury that Gaudreau may have incurred is nothing major.

Flame Of The Game

NHL: Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

David Rittich (G): You could have taken anyone here and it’s hard to overlook a hat trick, but Rittich was just fantastic between the pipes. For a guy who hasn’t seen the ice since Dec 22 he was lights out. Sure, he had a few posts help him out, but he was confident and everywhere he needed to be.

What’s Next?

12/29: Calgary Flames @ Vancouver Canucks 8 PM MT