The Flames started with the Mikael Backlund line and they gained the zone right away as they normally do. They didn’t much in the way of the ensuing possession, but it was wise to start the strongest line on the road. Unfortunately, the puck went the other way pretty quickly.
The Penguins gained the zone, but Brett Kulak was able to clear it and avoid icing. They were able to get back into the zone pretty easily however and Kulak went down hard into the boards. He didn’t seem too shaken up, but the Penguins had a ton of traffic in front and a shot from the point was tipped twice as the Penguins scored on a goal attributed to Chad Ruhwedel with Phil Kessel picking up his 48th assist.
The Penguins had gained possession on the ensuing faceoff and gained the zone again. Jon Gillies turned the puck over to Evgeni Malkin behind the net which is a pretty stupid thing to do. Malkin put the Penguins up two to nothing only three minutes and five seconds into the game.
The Flames had some pressure going the other way and were really pressing hard. Tristan Jarry was looking pretty shaky and the defense wasn’t exactly getting the puck away from the Backlund line. The Flames hard work lead to a Mark Giordano goal from the left side of the slot, the third goal in six minutes and 14 seconds.
Michael Frolik entered the zone and got the puck over to Backlund. Backlund made both Kris Letang and Jarry look completely stupid with some astounding puck handling and backhanded it home to knot the game at two 10:18 into the period. They went to the commercial break with the Flames leading in shots 11 to five, but knotted at two.
A lot of back and forth play went on for the next six minutes with the puck bouncing everywhere and neither team seemingly able to settle it down. Given the talent between the two teams, one has to assume that the ice might have not been up to par. The best chance came from Troy Brouwer in the slot with Jarry down in what should have been a give me, but he put it wide.
Mark Jankowski and Malkin went at each other a bit with a minute and 23 seconds for the first penalties of the game. Backlund got a piece of Jarry’s leg while carrying the puck towards him and was called for a questionable goalie interference leading to the first power play of the game a half a minute later. The Penguins weren’t able to do anything with the time left in the period with the score tied and Penguin carrying the power play into the second period.
The Flames killed off the remainder of the penalty with relative ease. The Sean Monahan line had a good, long series of possession in the Flames zone with Giordano trying to do some additional damage, but Monahan turned the puck over and it went the other way. Giordano went off for a change and Kulak tried to stop Carl Hagelin and was quite lucky to avoid a tripping penalty.
The first commercial break of the period hit with a minute and a half to go with a lot of chances going each way, but no goals to speak of. Coming out of the break the Penguins had the much better of play, but weren’t able to capitalize. The Flames best chance the other way came with Garnet Hathaway making a beautiful pass to Jankowski, but Jankowski wasn’t able to get it up over the pad of Jarry.
Ruhwedel hooked Johnny Gaudreau and puck was blown dead 10:12 into the period. The Flames power play looked as the Flames power play often looks however. Michael Stone was made to look particularly pathetic a number of times as the Penguins had more chances than the Flames did.
The power play expired and Jankowski actually interfered with the goalie and went off for interference 12:56 into the period. The Flames penalty kill looked pretty good in their own right, though Pittsburgh had some chances. Giordano made some great plays getting his stick on multiple Penguins passes.
Score remained tied up until 2:59 in the period. Letang joined the rush and fired it from the right dot. Gillies probably should have had it.
Brouwer knotted the game thanks to an absolutely magical play by T.J. Brodie. Brodie skated the puck below the goal line on the left side and passed the puck across the Brouwer who had a wide open shot from just inside the right dot. Jarry had no chance and the Flames knoted it up with three seconds left.
The closest any team came to scoring in the first five minutes came with Pittsburgh pressuring Gillies and gillies making the most awkward sprawling attempt ever witnessed. He was able to spread out and cover the puck, but it looked quite dicey. If Pittsburgh got a stick on it at all, it wouldn’t have been good as Gillies continued to look questionable.
Gaudreau lead a four on one the other way, but the puck was deflected off a stick and nothing became of it. The Penguins went back the other way and took a rather innocuous shot on Gillies who froze it. The score remained tied with 13 and a half to play heading into the first television time out of the period.
Coming out of the break Glen Gulutzan had Brouwer with Monahan and Gaudreau again. That’s hardly a great thing as time has shown. Matthew Tkachuk came incredibly close to giving the Flames the lead as Backlund passed the puck back behind the net to him, but Jarry made a stellar save.
The Flames were killer with the zone time as the Penguins looked completely gassed and the Flames were getting some stellar chances. The Penguins basically had no zone time for the next four minutes. They finally got the puck into the Flames zone, but that lasted all of a few seconds as Malkin went off for hooking 11:24 into the period.
The Flames power play was once again not all that effective. They finally got their first power play shot 50 seconds into the second power play. A shot from the Penguins end beat Gillies and came inches away from beating him as Gillies continued to look abhorrent - Giordano may have saved a goal by getting back.
The Flames finished with two shots on the power play, but nearly sprung Malkin on a breakaway as he exited the box. They put the pressure back on after the power play was over and actually looked to be sustaining offense better five on five. This game had the feeling of a Flames team desperate to get two points with Pittsburgh playing for overtime.
As soon as that gets written, the Penguins start playing with some fire and sustain more zone time. They had much more zone time, but never got anything going. Brouwer slashed the stick of Crosby and got away with one as Crosby barked at the refs toward the end, but Gaudreau made some moves in the Penguins zone to run out the clock.
The Flames best chance game with a two on zero with Gaudreau and Monahan after the puck bounced out of the Penguins zone on a shot that went wide. Ultimately Gaudreau made some rather tepid dekes and shot the puck wide on Jarry. One couldn’t help but feel like that one could ultimately cost the Flames.
Cost the Flames it did. Kessel is one of the most dangerous players in the world with the puck on his stick and he made some moves to draw the defense to him. He passed the puck over to a wide open Justin Schultz who fired it past Gillies who had absolutely no chance on this one as the Flames fall four to three in overtime.
The point is important, but this one stings. The Flames dominated every possession metric, but their abysmal power play, lackluster goaltending by Gillies, and missed chances cost them the extra point. Micheal Ferland looked particularly horrible in his return with the worst relative possession numbers of the game to go along with two goals against and no goals for.
While the point is important, the loss ultimately sends the Flames chances down ever so slightly. They now have a 15 percent chance of making the playoffs which can go up or down tonight depending on what the Dallas Stars do. The Stars currently lead one to nothing and if that stands their chances would fall to 14.7 percent.
Gillies finished the game with a .875 save percentage, .885 at even strength. That’s just not good enough to win hockey games. Mike Smith cannot get back soon enough as Gillies and Rittich have been nothing short of abhorrent in his absence and one has to wonder if these games have ruined Gillies trade value going forward.