Calgary Flames (5) - New York Rangers (1)
It was Matthew Tkachuk night at the Saddledome Friday. The second line winger was just two games removed from his first NHL hat-trick and a four-point night. Tkachuk would record 2 goals and 3 primary assists against the visiting New York Rangers.
Fans got a glimpse of the night to be midway through the first, when Tkachuk sent a perfect stretch pass over the neutral zone, to land right on Johnny Gaudreau’s blade. The Flames leading scorer made no mistake in avoiding Alexander Georgiev’s outstretched leg to give the Flames the lead.
The Rangers would strike back quickly. With the teams playing at 4-on-4, Ryan Strome slid a pass to Neal Pionk streaking in from the blue line, and he wired a slapshot under David Rittich’s blocker just over a minute later.
The score would remain 1-1 heading into the second, but Sean Monahan’s night was over. The top line center disappeared from the Flames bench in the first, after playing just 8:58.
Matthew Tkachuk would redirect a high Mark Giordano shot to give the Flames the lead in the opening minutes of the second period. Just over a minute later, he chased Garnet Hathaway’s dump-in, before sending the puck back to Hathaway, who redirected it for his 8th of the season.
In the third, a mad scramble lead to Tkachuk having the puck on his backhand with an empty net, but slid the puck back to Michael Frolik for an easy goal.
He was rewarded for his unselfishness at the halfway mark of the third. Mikael Backlund caused a turnover, and then played give-and-go with Tkachuk, who tapped the puck in from the backdoor for his second of the night.
1st: 10:00- Gaudreau (34) (Tkachuk)
2nd: 2:56- Tkachuk (31) (Giordano/Frolik), 4:06 Hathaway (8) (Tkachuk/Ryan)
3rd: 5:12- Frolik (14) (Tkachuk/Hanifin), 9:49- Tkachuk (32) (Backlund)
1st: 11:10- Pionk (6) (Strome)
David Rittich was excellent in this game. Active in his net and with his stick, he was aggressive all night and looked very solid. It was his first game at home giving up 2 or less goals, since January 22nd against Carolina. Mike Smith, who was supposed to start tonight, missed the game with an illness so may get the start tomorrow in Winnipeg.
Matthew Tkachuk had his 10th point(!) in his last three games, and is back up to a point per game pace, with 73 in 71 games. He recorded his 100th NHL assist, and has the most points of any player from the 2016 NHL draft this season. Johnny Gaudreau had his 7th point in his last 2 games.
The Flames moved back into first place in the Western Conference and the Pacific Divsion, and now have 95 points. They can clinch a playoff berth with a win tomorrow, and be the first Western team to do so.
Flame Of The Game
Matthew Tkachuk (F): No surprise here, as Matthew Tkachuk played his style to perfection tonight. He had a primary hand in every single goal, while providing his usual grit. The 3M line had another great night, potting 8 combined points. When he goes back to the tape on Michael Frolik’s goal, he’ll unfortunately see that he had an entire empty net to earn his second hat-trick in the last 3 games. His second assist of the night on Garnet Hathaway’s goal was the 100th of his career.
3/16: Calgary Flames @ Winnipeg Jets, 5 PM MT