Calgary Flames get rewarded for dominating performance vs. Canucks

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 17: Jacob Markstrom
VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 17: Jacob Markstrom /

The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks could both use a win tonight and could both benefit from a loss for their opponents.

The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks are both somewhat in the same boat. Both out of the playoffs right now but both aren’t far off. The Flames have 35 points in 33 games and the Canucks have 34 points in 33 games as well. Both need as many wins as they can get. They’ll be playing their fourth and final game against each other tonight.

The Canucks have lost four of their last five and the Flames are on a three-game losing streak. So nothing’s going well for either team tonight. The Flames will be playing the second game of a back-to-back so we’ll be seeing David Rittich in net. He’s won both games that he’s started in so far this season and he’s looking good.

Something the Calgary Flames have been struggling with is their powerplay. Heading into this game, they’re 0/19 in their last 19 opportunities and haven’t scored a powerplay goal in five games.

Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames /

Calgary Flames

Let’s see how this game unfolded.

First period

The first period started out with some aggressiveness from both teams. So much so that there wasn’t even a whistle until 4:13 into the game. Jacob Markstrom to be sharp and make a couple of good saves early on.

A few minutes later, the Calgary Flames third line had some good and strong forecheck. Garnet Hathaway was aggressive on the forecheck, got the puck to Sam Bennett who spots Mark Jankowski who got into a perfect position. A nice feed from Bennett and Janko would open up the scoring at 5:45 into the game.

David Rittich had to make a couple of decent saves, but none that were high-danger chances. early on. Until he accidentally gave up the puck to Nic Dowd in an attempt to clear and had to make a great save from his own giveaway.

Later, Rittich ended up getting a penalty because he lost his stick and the referee thought it was intentional. The PK wouldn’t last long because the Canucks would get a penalty. The Flames would get a powerplay and we all know how those have been going. Spoiler alert: not great. The score remained 1-0 after the first 20 minutes.

Second period

The second period started with a powerplay for the Canucks. Mark Giordano took a shot that went off Brock Boeser‘s foot and he looked in pain and had to crawl back to the bench. We later got word that he would not be returning for the rest of the game and he was later seen with crutches. That’s a huge loss for the Canucks if he’s out for a while.

Micheal Ferland took a penalty and we would get some 4on4 hockey. Soon after that shot from Gio off Boeser’s foot, he ended up finding the back of the net making it 2-0 Flames With an assist from Matt Stajan, he finally got his first point of the season. 24 games into the season for him. Later in the period, Gio ended up hitting the crossbar (how many crossbars can this team get?).

Jake Virtanen went into the Flames net and it seemed like Rittich may have gotten his stick up in his face and Virtanen looked slightly hurt. He ended up getting up and made his way slowly back to the bench and played later in the game, so he would be alright.

Matthew Tkachuk was going towards the net and didn’t seem like he had a dangerous chance, but he shot it on the net and it got past Jacob Markstrom. He snapped his three-game scoreless drought.

A couple minutes later, Gio got his second goal of the game and with 39 goals since 2015, he’s now tied in third among all defensemen for most goals since 2015. That’s quite the feat for the captain!

A minute later, Sam Bennett scored with just 13 seconds left in the period to make it 5-0 for the Flames before the second period ended. The Flames scored two goals in one minute and three goals in four minutes.

Third period

There was a goaltender change to start the third period for the Vancouver Canucks and Anders Nilsson starts the third. The Calgary Flames got an early powerplay this period, but as we all know how this story goes, they weren’t able to capitalize. Meaning they’re now 0/22 on their last 22 PP opportunities. At one point, the Canucks almost had a two-on-one shorthanded opportunity, but Johnny Gaudreau made a smart defensive play and came back to take the puck away from behind the play.

Then as the powerplay expired, the Flames would go on yet another powerplay because the Canucks just can’t stay out of the sin bin. Again, it doesn’t take some expert analyst to know what probably happened here. In the last nine seconds of the powerplay, the Flames ended up with a penalty so there would be 4on4 action for nine seconds before the Canucks headed on the powerplay. The Flames were quite aggressive, but after a couple shots from Markus Granlund, he finally found the back of the net. That’s not very forever a flame of him.

The Flames continued to get more powerplays this period and finally, they got their first powerplay goal in six games and their first in 24 opportunities. With the goal from Micheal Ferland and an assist for Sam Bennett, that was his fourth point of the night. Jankowski finished the night with three points.

The game finished with it 6-1 for the Flames and outshooting the Canucks 38-17. Each team went 1/5 on the PP. The first two periods were quite evenly played at even-strength, despite the Flames four goals in the second frame. But in the third period, the Flames dominated at 5v5. They outshot the Canucks in total of 19-4 with 11 shots coming on their PP.  At 5v5, they had 14 shot attempts compared to the Canucks’ five and eight scoring chances compared to the Flames’ one.

The Flames have finally been rewarded for yet another dominating performance against their opponents. They’ve now outshot their opponent in eight of their last nine games. David Rittich has now won all three games that he has started in his NHL career.

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This was a great win for the club and a much-needed win against the Pacific Division rival. The Flames need to continue this if they want a chance at still making the playoffs.