It was a game that had the makings of a comfortable Flames victory after 40 minutes, but with the way everything has gone lately, it wouldn’t be appropriate if the Flames cruised to victory. Calgary used a four goal second period to down the Penguins 5-4 in a chippy but fast paced afternoon affair in Pittsburgh.
The story of the Flames victory was depth scoring, and it began with Andrew Mangiapane being credited with a goal after an Oliver Kylington shot deflected off at least three things on the way in. Pittsburgh equalized late in the 1st with Jake Guentzel deflecting a shot past Mike Smith.
Early in the second period the Flames would score two quick goals to make it 3-1. First Michael Frolik would deposit a rebound off a Matthew Tkachuk deflection past Matt Murray. Shortly after a turnover in the neutral zone would allow Austin Czarnik to put a wrister past Murray. It was Czarnik’s third goal of the game and must’ve felt good for him in first action in a while.
Pittsburgh would narrow the deficit to 3-2 with a Sidney Crosby PP goal later in the period. However the Flames would take it back over late with Travis Hamonic getting a goal that deflected off a Penguin on the way, before Sam Bennett would tuck in a PP marker on a nice play by the second unit. 5-2 Flames after two periods.
The third period would be all Pittsburgh as they worked to come back from a three goal deficit. Evgeni Malkin would be a beast all period, striking once early and once with about five minutes to go. Pittsburgh would crash the net hard for the final ninety seconds, but a few missed chances and a couple saves mean Calgary leaves with a 5-4 victory.
1st: 7:06 - Mangiapane (2) (Kylington, Ryan)
2nd: 1:39 - Frolik (12) (Tkachuk, Andersson), 3:12 Czarnik (3) (Ryan), 16:02 Hamonic (4) (Monahan, Lindholm), 18:31 Bennett (11) (Ryan, Backlund) PP
1st: 17:41 - Guentzel (28) (Schultz, Bjugstad)
2nd: 6:52 - Crosby (25) (Malkin, Kessel) PP
3rd: 5:42 - Malkin (15) (Crosby, Kessel) PP, 14:41 Malkin (16) (Letang, Crosby) PP
Calgary got a solid goaltending performance from Mike Smith who made a number of really big saves on glorious Pittsburgh chances. Some may look at four goals and say it wasn’t a great performance, but he gave the Flames a good chance to win and the depth stepped up.
Speaking of depth, Derek Ryan had another really strong game, being rewarded with three assists. He led the way for points in the game but the entire bottom six performed well with the top six struggling again.
In what was a very scrappy game, the Flames didn’t back down. They recorded a season high 36 hits in the game to go along with fighting majors for Sam Bennett and Rasmus Andersson. There is some discussion that the Flames aren’t tough enough for playoff hockey, but I think a game like this helps ease that concern.
Calgary ends the road trip with a record of 1-1-2 and now hopefully they can build off that with a few weaker opponents on home ice next week.
Flame of the Game
Derek Ryan (F): In my opinion he’s been the best Flame since the All-Star break and it was great to see him get rewarded with three assists tonight. He now has seven points in his last seven games, and seems to be heating up at the right time to boost the bottom six.
The Arizona Coyotes make the trek to Calgary for a Family Day afternoon affair at the Dome. Puck drop is at 2:00 PM MT as the Flames look to get a streak going.