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Rittich Shines, Flames Flicker in OT Loss in Toronto

More great goaltending foiled by a lack of offense

NHL: Calgary Flames at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames 1 - Toronto Maple Leafs 2 (OT)

Scoring

1st: None

2nd: None

3rd: CGY: Andrew Mangiapane (7) (Tkachuk, Lindholm) - 16:33, TOR: Nylander (6) (Hyman, Matthews) - 18:32

OT: TOR: Nylander (7) (Matthews, Holl) 1:06

Recap

There’s really not a lot that can be said about Wednesday night’s game in Toronto other than that David Rittich was the sole reason the Flames got even a point out of the game, and they should’ve gotten two but his skaters let him down.

I’m not going to get into every single stunning save tonight that Rittich made, but clearly for whatever reason he loves playing the Maple Leafs. He now carries a .937 SV% and 3-1-1 record over five starts against them, with the SV% actually being the highest ever in NHL history for any goalie with at least five starts against the Leafs which is bonkers.

The first period was actually pretty balanced between the sides, although the Leafs did get three powerplays, giving us shades of Monday night but just like Monday night the Flames kept them off the board with some impressive PK work. The shots were a respectable 11-7 for Toronto after one period and it definitely wasn’t a bad start compared to others in recent memory.

However once the second period got going things really flipped and Toronto was the more dominant team pretty much for the rest of the night, testing Rittich from multiple dangerous locations on the ice including a few breakaways but he was up to the task.

If I’m going to highlight once specific save, I want you to watch this ridiculous stretch save on John Tavares that was Kipper-esque.

It really felt like a game that the Flames were setting up to lose in heartbreaking fashion as the third period dragged on with neither team scoring but Toronto carrying the bulk of the play.

Then to everyone’s surprise, a quick passing play behind the net from Elias Lindholm to Matthew Tkachuk then out into the slot to Andrew Mangiapane resulted in the forward picking up his seventh goal of the season with just 3:27 to go. It looked like the hockey gods may be smiling upon the Flames in a game they didn’t deserve to win.

However it turned out to be a cruel ploy as after Lindholm missed the empty net, Toronto wound up with some zone time, and after an extensive scramble in front, William Nylander shoveled home the loose puck to tie the game. Some might say it could have been goaltender interference, but it was extremely questionable and probably not worth the challenge with the fear of sending Toronto to a PP had they lost.

In overtime, after one shot for the Flames, Nylander and Auston Matthews went to work with the former blazing around Sean Monahan and beating Rittich with a hard high shot in close to win the game. It was a frustrating but deserved loss for everyone but Rittich, but taking three of four points in Toronto has to be considered a win for this group right now.

Final Thoughts

  • I think the Flames can have full confidence now in turning to Rittich whenever they need to give Markstrom a rest, especially if he needs some more time to fully recover
  • Gaudreau, Monahan, and Gio can not be together in 3-on-3 at this point. Gio doesn’t have the speed to account for any defensive missteps, especially for Monahan. As soon as they lost that draw it felt like Toronto was definitely going to score.
  • Mangiapane now has 7 goals since February 1, which is third in the league only behind Auston Matthews and David Pastrnak (not bad company)
  • Tonight was the fourth time in five games that the Flames scored just one goal, that is simply unacceptable.
  • I thought Oliver Kylington was fine in his limited action, seems to bring a bit more to the table than Connor Mackey or Nikita Nesterov right now.
  • Overall again I think you have to be happy taking 3 of 4 points in Toronto, and now with four straight against Ottawa, the Flames have a chance to gain some ground although the Sens have been playing much better lately.

Flame of the Game

NHL: Calgary Flames at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

David Rittich (G): You have to give him Flame of the Game. This last two games were simply amazing hockey for him against the NHL’s best team. Games like this are a sign of just how good he can be when he’s on his game. He’s always been a goaltender who’s confidence rides the upswings and downswings of his performance, so I imagine he may be able to run with things a bit now, especially if Markstrom isn’t 100%.