Calgary Flames: Rittich Shines But Turnovers Costly in 2-1 Loss To Bruins

CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 19: David Rittich
CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 19: David Rittich /

The Calgary Flames were aiming for redemption after last week’s road loss to the Boston Bruins. To ensure a victory, the team needed: awesome goaltending, near-perfect special team play and to keep the puck away from Boston’s most dangerous players.  Two outta three ain’t bad, I guess.

On Family Day morning, the Calgary Flames were still in the hunt for third place in the Pacific Division.  They have not, however, made it easy on themselves.  Saturday’s loss to the very beatable Florida Panthers was a wasted opportunity to solidify their position.  Instead, the Flames found themselves under pressure to earn points in a matinée game against Boston, arguably the Eastern Conference’s hottest team.

Enter David Rittich.  The Czech call-up from the Stockton Heat has been nothing short of spectacular.   And his performance against the Boston Bruins was no exception.  Rittich turned away 30 of 32 shots and near single-handedly got the team to overtime.  He could not, however, save his team from all of a series of messy turnovers.

First Period

The game started with the teams exchanging chances.  First, Matthew Tkachuk wristed one off the post of Tuukka Rask.  This was followed by a number of Bruins shots from the likes of David Backes and Ryan Spooner, all turned away by Rittich.

The rivalry between Tkachuk and Bruins super-pest Brad Marchand was rekindled almost immediately as Marchand fell on Tkachuk’s stick behind the play and wouldn’t get up.  The two exchanged pleasantries on the way back to the bench.  I, for one, am looking very forward to watching this rivalry evolve.

CALGARY, AB – FEBRUARY 19: Matthew Tkachuk scored the lone Calgary goal and renewed his rivalry with Bruins forward, Brad Marchand.
CALGARY, AB – FEBRUARY 19: Matthew Tkachuk scored the lone Calgary goal and renewed his rivalry with Bruins forward, Brad Marchand. /

Also notable within the opening minutes of the period was a good shift from the Calgary Flames’ fourth line which featured the NHL debut of Morgan Klimchuk.

The Bruins, however, scored first at nearly 6 minutes in.  Michael Frolik turned the puck over to David Pastrnak along the half boards.  The wide open Pastrnak took three steps in on Rittich and scored easily.

At about 8 and a half minutes in, Calgary would go on the power play after David Krejci hooked Mark Jankowski.  However, no shots were generated.  The Flames had a tough time getting anything set up.

Rittich was the story for the rest of the period.  He turned away a late-period flurry of shots from the Bruins, including 2 from in tight during the Bruins only powerplay of the period.

Second Period

The second started with a good pace for both teams until, at the 1:12 mark, Adam McQuaid tapped Garnet Hathaway for a fight.   It was not an epic battle.  And Hathaway was, well, not the winner.

Three minutes later, the Flames would get another chance with the man advantage after Danton Heinen slashed Michael Stone.  The Calgary Flames tallied an all important power play goal as Matthew Tkachuk slapped in a rebound lying in the feet of Boston defenceman Zdeno Chara.

Related Story: Flames Powerplay Heading in the Right Direction

Not to be outdone by his power play unit, David Rittich kept the Flames in it, beautifully stopping a Brad Marchand tip-in.

The team switched to PK mode at 11:41, when Matt Stajan went to the box for slashing.  It was an excellent kill.  The Flames allowed only one shot and kept the Bruins to minimal zone time.

At about the 17-minute mark of the second, Sean Monahan turned the puck over to Brad Marchand in the Bruins zone.  Marchand caught Ryan Spooner with a pass up the middle.  Spooner’s breakaway (and Monahan’s gaffe) was saved by Rittich.

The period concluded with a Flames power play.  They managed zero shots on goal, but maintained good possession in offensive zone.

Third Period

The third period could only be described as a grudge match between 2 outstanding goaltenders.  There were no goals.  There were no penalties.  Just two great teams trying to win.

Six minutes in, Zdeno Chara found a streaking David Pastrnak, who flew between Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton.  Pastrnak couldn’t beat Rittich’s pad, however, nor could Marchand’s rebound attempt.

Ten minutes later, it was Rask’s turn.  Johnny Gaudreau‘s redirect of Dougie Hamilton’s slap pass was headed straight in.  Rask went side-to-side to save it and cover it up.


The overtime period did not fail to deliver on excitement, though the outcome left much to be desired.

I thought the game was over when Patrice Bergeron turned the puck over to Sam Bennett in front the Boston net.  Bennett would take one shot, collect his own rebound and skate behind the net and around again to take a second shot.  Tuukka Rask robbed him both times.

The Calgary Flames enjoyed both the majority of possession time and scoring chances in the overtime period.  It looked really good for them until, with a 1:30 left in the period, TJ Brodie brutally turned the puck over in the Boston zone to Marchand.

Marchand sped up the middle of the ice all alone (Brodie was in pursuit, but right out of gas) and beat Rittich five-hole.

Next: Calgary Flames: How to get one back vs. Boston Bruins

With Monday’s loss, the Flames earned a point that put them back into third place in the Pacific Division.  However, as of this writing, neither the LA Kings nor the Anaheim Ducks had finished their games.  Will the single point be enough?  Here’s hoping.