The Calgary Flames were looking for their first win streak in two and a half weeks against the Vancouver Canucks tonight. And looks like they got it.
The Calgary Flames are playing in this Hockey Night in Canada game on a high note going against the Vancouver Canucks. They’re coming off a strong overtime win vs. the Montreal Canadiens and they’ve been outshooting their opponents like crazy. They’ve been averaging around 41 shots per game in their last five games. Although they haven’t been getting rewarded as much for their efforts, as long as they keep it up, the points will come.
Mike Smith will be playing in his 500th career game tonight with his parents in the stands watching. He became the 70th goaltender in NHL history to play in 500 games. He’s hoping for the W tonight and with a win, the Calgary Flames will move into a wildcard spot and the Canucks will be out. So it really is a big game for both teams tonight. The Flames will have to do it without Jaromir Jagr for the third straight game. He’s currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The Calgary Flames didn’t start the game as ideally as they would have liked. The Canucks opened up the scoring just two minutes in with a wrist shot from Jake Virtanen. There was otherwise some decent end to end action from both teams before that goal.
The Flames got a powerplay less than six minutes in which ended up being somewhat (totally) useless. They barely generated any sort of chance and had no shots. Mikael Backlund at one point in the period had a rocket shot that unfortunately went off the post. But that line, in general, was on fire this period. Matthew Tkachuk butt-checked Michael Del Zotto and Michael Frolik almost had a shorthanded goal.
The Flames had two powerplays in the period and the Canucks had one. The powerplays for both teams were not great by any means and no shots from either team. Both teams only generated one chance each as well.
Later in the period, Curtis Lazar had the puck and a two on one breakaway generated with Troy Brouwer on the other side. Lazar had a nice feed to Brouwer and had a great slapper past Anders Nilsson. This is now Brouwer’s second goal of the season.
The period ended with a 1-1 tie and the Flames outshooting the Canucks 16-12. The Flames had slightly more scoring chances, out-chancing them 10-7 (5v5).
The second period started with an early powerplay for the Calgary Flames. But that didn’t last long because Mike Smith put the puck over the glass and received a delay of game penalty. So we’ll have some 4on4 hockey for a bit. Michael Stone was having a good game and blocked two hard shots early in the second period. The second shot stung him a little bit and he went down the tunnel. But luckily, he came back to the bench shortly after. He just needed to walk it off.
The rest little bit was somewhat uneventful. The Flames were spending more time in the Canucks zone (which is always a good sign) but then Garnet Hathaway took a penalty with less than five minutes left in the period. Luckily the Canucks didn’t generate a lot of chances and the Flames even had a shorthanded chance (again). But one too many passes and they couldn’t make anything out of it.
Right when their penalty expired, the Flames were right back in the Canucks zone. Mark Giordano had the puck and it seemed like Brock Boeser hooked him or held him and then somewhat mauled him to the ground. So we’ll see a penalty! Except it looked like there would be offset penalties for Gio and Boeser. But Boeser somewhat complained to the ref and only Gio got the penalty. The crowd (and Twitter) was not happy.
And knowing the Flames luck, you can probably guess what happened. None other than Brock Boeser gives the Canucks the lead with just 54 seconds left in the period. This is definitely a metaphor for the Flames season. The Canucks got a penalty with just six seconds left in the period so the Flames will be starting the third period on the powerplay. The Flames outshot the Canucks 8-7 that period.
Sven Baertschi earlier in the period took a shot off the glass that hit him right in the face. He left the ice right away and the Canucks later confirmed that Baertschi would not be returning to the game.
The third period started with a Calgary Flames powerplay, but there was no sense of urgency on the powerplay. The Flames were also having a few giveaways and consequently spent quite a bit of time in their own end. For the most part, the first bit of the period was quite uneventful for both teams.
Around the midway mark, the Flames decided to finally wake up and play some hockey. And it worked. Garnet Hathaway had some nice forechecking and Matthew Tkachuk, who missed last game due to a suspension, goes to the net and ties the game up with less than nine minutes to go in the period. But they didn’t stop there. They continued to push and were just hammering the shots on Nilsson and applied immense pressure on the Canucks for a good little bit.
The Canucks did come back a bit (I blame the wave) and had a few good chances on Mike Smith. In particular from a Sedin (I don’t remember which one, don’t hold it against me).
After those few chances, the Flames were relentless. Especially the third line, who have been quite a line the past few games. The Flames were pressing late in the game and Anders Nilsson had to make one great save and a few other saves. But all that pressure and a great shift from the third line pays off. Sam Bennett makes it 3-2 for the Flames with only 1:10 left in the game. Bennett has really taken off lately after not scoring any points until his 18th game.
He now has 11 points in his last 13 games and eight points in his last seven. This was also his first game-winning goal in two years. Matthew Tkachuk ended up getting an empty-net goal to beat the Canucks 4-2.
The Calgary Flames outshot the Vancouver Canucks 35-24 and Mike Smith ends up winning his 500th career game! The Flames now move into the first wildcard spot and are tied with the San Jose Sharks in points with 34 for that third Pacific Division spot, but the Sharks have played in fewer games. With this win, the Canucks also fall out of a playoff spot for now.
Let’s hope the Flames can keep up this momentum.