Calgary Flames 4 - Winnipeg Jets 1
1st: 8:51, Andrew Copp (Lowry, Kulikov)
2nd: 7:06, Johnny Gaudreau (Monahan, Lindholm) PP. 12:51, Tobias Rieder (Brodie) SH. 18:14, Michael Backlund (Mangiapane, Lucic) PP.
3rd: 18:19, Andrew Mangiapane (unassisted).
The Flames got off to a good enough start, killing off an early Rasmus Andersson penalty and working to establish a bit of momentum. That was pretty quickly halted by what we could only describe as drama. A weird collision between Matthew Tkachuk and Mark Scheifele sent Scheifele to the locker room in what looked like serious distress, and not long after, apparently Tkachuk had to answer for that hit, and he and Blake Wheeler fought, both earning five minute penalties.
The Jets would get out to an early lead not long after that fight, with Adam Lowry kicking a puck from behind the net up to Andrew Copp in the left circle for a quick shot to beat Cam Talbot. Whomp whomp.
The second period saw the Flames looking more settled in and getting their chances. Indeed, there were a couple of sequences, both on the power play and at even strength, where they were knocking on the door but just couldn’t seem to get a bounce, until they did. Just past the seven minute mark, with the Flames on the power play, it was Johnny Gaudreau who broke the ice and got the Flames on the board on a pretty sweet goal in tight.
The Flames weren’t done though! With Sam Bennett in the box and the Jets on another power play, the Flames said no problem, and with Tobias Rieder intercepting a loose puck and getting moving on a breakaway, the Flames had a shorthanded goal and their first lead of the game.
The scoring kept on rolling, as late in the second, Tkachuk drew a penalty and sent the Flames to the power play again. He would hit the post on that power play, but not to worry, despite that chance not going in, with the second unit out, Michael Backlund took a feed from Andrew Mangiapane for a laser of a shot and put the Flames up 3-1.
The third period went, relatively speaking, a bit more uneventfully. The Jets worked to create a bit more pressure, but the Flames were able to keep them pretty well contained. They also killed off each of the three additional penalties that they took, which was a big momentum killer for the Jets. And then all that was left was a Mangiapane empty netter to close things out, and the Flames pretty handily took Game 1 of the series.
Alright gang, there sure was a lot to like about this game. Despite a shaky start, the Flames got their legs under them nicely and pretty well dominated play through the final 40 minutes.
Special teams were really the story in this one, as the Flames’ penalty kill went seven for seven on the night and looked really sharp on those attempts. They showed some aggression and it served them well, culminating in Rieder’s shorthanded tally. There’s something to be said for, well, trying not to take seven penalties in a single game, because even if your penalty kill is playing well, you shouldn’t be careless and bank on them coming up big. But hopefully that’s something they shore up for their next game. For now, it ended up being fine.
The power play also ended up being really strong, as well. They went two for four with goals for Gaudreau and Backlund, and even when they weren’t converting, their puck movement was pretty solid, and they were able to get a good few dangerous chances. All told, in their four attempts, they totalled 15 shot attempts and seven scoring chances.
And let’s not forget about goaltending! After a bit of a dicey showing in the exhibition game, Cam Talbot looked solid in this one. He didn’t have the heaviest of workloads, as he only faced 18 shots in total, but he still performed well, stopping 17 of those 18 shots. Not a whole lot to complain about there.
Flame of the game
This was a hard one because there were a lot of really strong performances in this one, but we’re going to have to give this one to Johnny Gaudreau. He’s had a bit of a weird and streaky regular season, that’s no secret, but he was one that the Flames were going to need to step up here in the playoffs, and it was really nice to see him come in and start the series strong.