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Calgary wins best of 5 series 3-1
VGK: Marchessault (4)
CGY: Monahan (6)
VGK: Reilly Smith (4)
CGY: Gustafsson/Andersson (6)
VGK: Marchessault/Stastny/Smith (4)
CGY: Monahan (10)
VGK: Lehner (1-3-0) 2.93 GAA .911 Sv%
CGY: Rittich (5-1-0) 2.12 GAA .945 Sv% 2 SO
Calgary Flames 4 - Vegas Golden Knights 2
2nd: 13:51- Giordano (1) (Brodie , Lindholm ), 14:04- Monahan (6) (N/A)
3rd: 10:02- Backlund (1) (Gustafsson , Andersson ), 19:42 EN- Tkachuk (4) (Giordano , Brodie )
Vegas Golden Knights
1st: 4:27- Glass (1) (Holden , Hague )
3rd: 2:28 PPG- Stastny (1) (Theodore , Smith )
Keeping your foot on the gas is the antithesis of seemingly all Calgary Flames playoff series. After shutting the Colorado Avalanche out of Game 1 in last year’s playoffs, well, I won’t bring it up again but you know. The Flames allowed the Canucks to fight back for a Game 6 in the 2015 playoffs after being up 3 games to 1, and then almost allowed them to earn a Game 7. Even despite the obvious taint of the 2004 Cup, the Flames still blew a 3-2 series lead and lost 2 straight games.
And things were following that trend in Game 4 of the second round of our simulated playoffs. Under our modified structure, Round 2 was a best of 5 series, meaning the Flames could close it out at home and not have to risk going back to the accursed T-Mobile arena.
Of course, Cody Glass scored his first career playoff goal to give the Knights an early lead, which they’d carry into the first intermission, and make the Saddledome collectively begin to sweat.
That lead would last well past the midway mark (no upcoming pun intended) of the second period. Robin Lehner and the Knights defence had played a very structured round, and the losses thus far were almost solely on a suddenly mediocre offense.
The Captain broke the ice. Elias Lindholm carried the puck into the Vegas zone and dished it to the far side to TJ Brodie, on a play very close to being offside. The smooth skating Brodie bought himself some time with a slick head fake, and turned back towards the blueline, where he found Mark Giordano streaking into the crease fresh off the bench. Gio pump faked a few times before lasering his first goal of the playoffs over Lehner’s glove.
Mark Giordano scores his first playoff goal since 2007 to tie the game. pic.twitter.com/dtRz7zK0AR— Matchsticks & Gasoline (@MatchsticksCGY) April 21, 2020
Off the very next faceoff at centre ice, which Vegas won, Sean Monahan picked off an ill-advised Vegas pass and found himself on the breakaway. To everyone’s surprise Monahan pulled off an absoltuely disgusting move which froze Lehner, and deposited the puck under his blocker. If there’s one highlight you absolutely need to watch, it’s this one. (As most NHL 20 players know, any move the computer pulls other than running into the goalie on a breakaway is surprising).
Intercept pass, breakaway, skate-to-stick, fake backhand, forehand far side, score, 2-1 Flames. pic.twitter.com/9J3EyaicvA— Matchsticks & Gasoline (@MatchsticksCGY) April 21, 2020
The Flames, who had been down 1-0 for the first 34 minutes of the game, suddenly found themselves up 2-1 going in to the intermission thanks to a 13 second span. It was hardly smooth-sailing from that point on.
Paul Stastny scored his first of the series on an unfortunate series of events on an early Vegas powerplay in the third, to tie the game. After Sam Bennett was crippled blocking Reilly Smith’s initial shot, the puck bounced perfectly to Shea Theodore, who was able to quickly set up Stastny for the one-timer.
The Flames would score the game winner on a goal that can be half-attributed to luck, and half to Mikael Backlund’s secret pinball skills. Rasmus Andersson was able to narrowly avoid a hit at the blue-line, and slid the puck over to partner Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson’s rocket was initially stopped be Lehner, but the rebound bounced off his blocker, off Backlund’s shinpad, and into the back of the net.
Not exactly how it was drawn up, but it worked. pic.twitter.com/wwpdTPM2j5— Matchsticks & Gasoline (@MatchsticksCGY) April 21, 2020
The Vegas pushback came to a final halt as Matthew Tkachuk buried the long-range empty net goal, and Backlund’s wacky first goal of the playoffs would stand as the winner. The Flames will now move on to the Western Semi-Finals, which would usually be the second round in a normal round.
Tkachuk seals it, handshakes follow. The Flames will now wait for their next opponent. pic.twitter.com/Ow2PfHyFuI— Matchsticks & Gasoline (@MatchsticksCGY) April 21, 2020
Keep in mind, even though the Flames have technically won two playoff rounds now, they’ve only played 7 total games which would be the length of a single normal series. The remaining three series from this point on will also be the standard best of 7 format.
Flame of the Game
David Rittich (G): It was another stellar playoff performance for the Flames netminder who hasn’t looked back since taking over the net after Game 1 against Arizona. Rittich made 32 saves on 34 shots tonight and carries a .945 SV% into the next round.
Other NHL20 Sim Playoff Series Score Updates
(4) Dallas Stars 3 at (5) Edmonton Oilers 0 (Stars win series 3-0)
(2) Colorado Avalanche 5 @ (7) Nashville Predators 3 (Avalanche lead series 2-1)
(3) Washington Capitals 5 @ (8) Toronto Maple Leafs 2 (Capitals lead series 2-1)
(2) Tampa Bay Lightning 1 @ (10) Florida Panthers 2 (Panthers lead series 2-1)
(1) St. Louis Blues 2 @ (9) Minnesota Wild 4 (Series Tied 2-2)
(1) Boston Bruins 3 @ (11) New York Rangers 0 (Bruins win series 3-1)
(4) Philadelphia Flyers 4 @ (5) Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (OT) (Series Tied 2-2)
With the Flames being done Round 2, we will follow a realistic timeline and start their Best of 7 series against TBD on Saturday April 25. Look for a preview for the next round to drop sometime towards the end of the week.