1st: 16:23- Hamonic (2) (Monahan/Giordano)
3rd: 00:19- Gaudreau (8) (Backlund), 1:59- Frolik (4) (Rieder), 2:49- Gaudreau (9) (Hamonic/Monahan)
Toronto Maple Leafs
1st: 8:24- Tavares (13) (Marner/Barrie)
2nd: 14:06- Marner (5) (Tavares/Ceci)
You really couldn’t ask for more from two teams who have had dramatic turnarounds in their seasons due to bizarre circumstances. Both the Flames and Maple Leafs were struggling when issues came up with their respective coaches and after replacing said coaches, each team has resurrected their season. Tonight both teams put on quite a display, with the Flames winning their 7th straight game by way of a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This one didn’t start out so well for the Flames with Toronto getting on the board first thanks to John Tavares’ 13th goal of season with just a little over eight minutes gone after the puck was dropped.
As has been the case through this winning streak the Flames dug in and battled for a good chunk of the first period and were able to get the equalizer with less than four minutes to go in the opening period. Sean Monahan would enter the Leafs zone and peel back to find a wide open Travis Hamonic who would rifle a wrist shot past Frederik Andersen’s outstretched mitt to tie the game at 1-1.
Both teams would battle back and forth and play some outstanding hockey, but it wouldn’t really pick up until the start of the third period. Before we got there Toronto’s Mitchell Marner would give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead as the second period was winding down and the Flames would head to the locker room down a goal.
Fear not, however, as the Flames dusted off some of the third period magic and put on a show that took exactly 2:30 to complete. Johnny Gaudreau’s game has been showing signs of correcting itself and he inserted himself into this game front and center just after the puck was dropped to start the third period. Mikael Backlund would play a puck off the boards and feed Gaudreau who would wire a wrist shot past Andersen’s glove hand (there’s a theme here) and tie the game 2-2. The red hot Michael Frolik would put the Flames ahead with his 3rd goal in as many games by beating, you guessed it, Andersen glove side and Calgary would grab their first lead of the day at 3-2. Johnny Gaudreau would round out the scoring with this second of the contest 50 seconds later (redirection glove side) and the Flames would walk away with their 7th win in a row.
This was a truly exciting game to watch/cover. The Flames and Maple Leafs played a game that had a playoff type atmosphere to it and both teams were flying up and down the ice. Toronto had been getting very good goaltending from Andersen coming into tonight, but he was very vulnerable on his glove side. All four of Calgary’s goals went that route and it was obvious the Flames were taking full advantage of that weakness tonight.
At the other end of the ice David Rittich was stellar. The Flames keeper stopped 32 of the 34 shots that came his way and was a machine during a Toronto 5 on 3. Rittich made three key saves during that time frame and kept the Leafs from getting back into the game.
Speaking of that penalty kill situation, could the Flames PK unit have done any better? Mark Giordano, Michael Stone and Mikael Backlund weathered the majority of that storm and performed to perfection. That unit blocked shots, cleared pucks and stayed home to help David Rittich out when the Leafs were smelling blood in the water. That threesome earned their paycheck tonight by bailing the Flames out for the two dumb penalties they took.
Don’t look now, but the Flames have caught the Oilers for second place in the Pacific and a Calgary win and Arizona loss on Saturday would put the Flames in a tie for first place. Not bad for a team that was falling further down the ladder in the division a mere two weeks ago.
Flame Of The Game
Johnny Gaudreau (F): Gaudreau’s two third period goals were a huge lift for the Flames, especially his first marker which tied the game nine seconds in to the final frame. Gaudreau’s game is starting get hot, which is a good thing for this team.
12/14: Calgary Flames vs Carolina Hurricanes, 2 PM MT