Calgary Flames beat league-leading Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1

The Calgary Flames finally win! They beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 as the Leafs were missing one of their star players.

A win! I almost forgot what this felt like. The Calgary Flames win their first in four games against a strong Toronto Maple Leafs team. However, based on their performance tonight, you wouldn’t think that the Leafs were leading the Eastern Conference and tied for first in the league in points. The Flames came out strong in the first period and played a great defensive game tonight. I guess the Leafs were somewhat lost without Auston Matthews, who’s suffering from a shoulder injury and was placed on IR earlier this morning.

When Bill Peters announced that Mike Smith would get the start in Toronto and David Rittich would get the start the next night against the Buffalo Sabres, some were a little worried. Since Smith is, you know, not good. But credit where credit’s due, he stopped everything he saw until the last five minutes of the third period on a powerplay goal.

Freddie Andersen, on the other end, was the clear starter. He was 7-0-1 against the Flames in his career and was finally handed his first regulation loss against the club.

First period

Right off the opening faceoff, the Calgary Flames had a great shift from the top line. For the first five minutes of the game, it was basically all Flames. They kept the pressure and the Leafs barely had any possession, especially in the offensive zone.

Slightly past the five-minute mark, Freddie Andersen somewhat gave the puck away to Mark Jankowski as he was trying to play the puck out of his net, but he recovered and this game remained scoreless.

At this point, the Flames had five shot attempts compared to just one for the Leafs and the Leafs managed no shots or scoring chances, compared to two shots and four scoring chances for the Flames.

Slightly before the eight-minute mark, through some good pressure down low by James Neal, the Flames were that close to being up by one with a good chance from Neal to Sam Bennett, but the puck hit the post.

With nine minutes remaining, both teams took coincidental penalties, so we saw some 4on4 for two minutes. The Flames were doing well and had the only shot during that 4on4 but it went scoreless. With three seconds left of 4on4, Connor Brown crosschecked Johnny Gaudreau in the back, so the Flames went on the powerplay.

The Flames had some good looks on their PP and some quality scoring chances, but sharp moves by Andersen and good stick placements by the Leafs defenders, and this PP went scoreless.

With about two minutes left in the period, Andersen got caught behind the net and the Flames had an open net, but couldn’t get the puck to settle down, so this was still 0-0. Late in the game, Neal took an interference penalty which went scoreless for the Leafs, so they would start the second period on the powerplay.

The Flames outshot the Leafs 12-4 that period and completely dominated at even-strength, so this is very typical Flames to leave the period scoreless.

Second period

The Leafs had just one good opportunity on the PP but the puck hopped over a stick weirdly and they couldn’t get a shot on. They couldn’t quite get set up the rest of this PP through some good defensive plays by the Calgary Flames.

The Leafs were playing a better defensive game than the first but the Flames went on the powerplay shortly after the seven-minute mark. This PP wasn’t the best for the Flames. They had some decent offensive pressure, but they had no quality opportunities and kept the puck around the perimeter.

Once the PP ended, the Leafs had a bit of offensive pressure and Mike Smith had to make a couple good saves and this one was still scoreless.

The Flames finally picked it up a bit after some decent pressure from the Leafs and Gaudreau made a great play around Jake Gardiner with about six minutes left of the period, but couldn’t get a shot away. Gaudreau then came back and had a good backhand shot but Nikita Zaitsev came back to take away that shot reaching the net.

With less than five minutes left of the period, there were some good puck battles happening in front of Andersen but he did a good job at finding the puck.

The Leafs had some good chances in the last two minutes of the period and some close calls, but this period went scoreless. John Tavares shot the puck into the net but after the buzzer had already gone.

The Flames outshot the Leafs 12-11 this period but the Leafs had the edge at even-strength. While the game was still scoreless, seeing how the last few Flames games have gone, I’d say this was an improvement.

Third period

The Calgary Flames came out flying to start the third period. Some good pressure from two different lines until Josh Leivo got a slight breakaway attempt and was all alone in front of Smith but couldn’t get a shot.

A little past the five-minute mark, the Flames went on the powerplay. Early on the PP, Sean Monahan scored Elias Lindholm‘s rebound goal and scored for the first time in eight games.

Less than a minute later, the Leafs gave up the puck in their own zone, and a great down-low pass from Gaudreau over to Lindholm who has such a quick wrist shot, he made it 2-0. Well this game took a quick turn, hey?

Moments later, the Leafs hit the post and Zach Hyman tried to get it past Smith, but it didn’t work. This was the Leafs first shot all period about seven minutes into the frame. They didn’t manage another shot on goal seven minutes later.

Slightly past the six-minute mark, Matthew Tkachuk took a penalty so the Leafs had a powerplay to hopefully get back in this game. With 1:09 left in the PP, the Flames took another penalty so they would be on a 5on3 penalty-kill for over a minute.

Right as it went to a 5on4 PP, Nazem Kadri made it a one-goal game, so they were back in this game but luckily for the Flames, they wouldn’t be shorthanded.

The Leafs kept the pressure and took their goalie out for the extra attacker. It almost seemed like Zach Hyman had scored with less than two to go and the Leafs started cheering while everyone in the stands are cheering and the goal horn went off. Turns out that the puck just got caught in the mesh outside of the net and it gave the illusion that it was in the net, but this one wouldn’t count for obvious reasons.

With six seconds left in the game, Michael Frolik got an empty-net goal to win this one 3-1.

The Calgary Flames, overall, played a great game. There was about a five-minute period where the Leafs were applying a lot of pressure in the third period, but this one was one that the Flames deserved to win. They outshot the Leafs 34-25 and had the edge at even-strength.

On to Buffalo tomorrow!