The Calgary Flames entered their Saturday contest against Anaheim looking to string together three straight wins for the first time in over a month. They faced a tough test, though -- Anaheim beat them just a week ago and has historically had their number, both at home and away.
The Flames got off to a good start, however. Vastly outshooting the Ducks to start the period, the floodgates opened a crack at the 7:51 mark of the first period. Stealing the puck from Brandon Montour in the offensive zone, Johnny Gaudreau cut behind the goal line and sent a pass in front to a streaking Micheal Ferland, who pounded the puck past John Gibson to make it a 1-0 score. Ferland's 17th goal of the season, second on the Flames only to Sean Monahan (19), was assisted solely by Gaudreau.
No time was wasted by the Flames in doubling their lead. Just 44 seconds after Ferland's goal, Mark Giordano fired a cannon of a slap shot from the left point over the shoulder of Gibson to make it a 2-0 Calgary lead. Giordano's goal, his second in three games, was his 8th of the season and was assisted by Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk at the 8:35 mark of the period.
The opening frame was largely controlled by the Flames, as they outshot Anaheim 17-8. The lone powerplay of the period, off a Sam Bennett hooking call, was awarded to the Ducks with 1:57 remaining, but they failed to capitalize. It is additionally worth noting that Garnet Hathaway was involved in a late-period scrum with veteran Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin, for which both combatants were awarded offsetting roughing minors.
Shots on Goal
Calgary Flames: 17 - Anaheim Ducks: 8
The second period can be described in one word: chippy. What it lacked in offense, it made up for with hard, nose-to-the-grindstone play on both sides of the ice.
While most of the fun occurred in the dying minutes of the period, there was still excitement in the remaining time played. The Flames were sent to their first powerplay of the game 22 seconds into the period, 19 after they killed off Bennett's penalty, but they failed to convert. In turn, the Ducks were awarded two consecutive powerplays of their own, failing to muster up any consistent offensive pressure.
The Flames got perhaps their best chance of the period with just over five minutes remaining. A turnover found its way onto the stick of Curtis Lazar just inside the offensive zone, and the forward walked in on Gibson and fired a shot from roughly six feet out... which managed to miss the net completely. Lazar has zero goals this season, and just one in his entire career with the Flames.
The real crescendo came in the final minute of the period. With just one minute remaining, Ducks forward Derek Grant kicked out his leg while travelling behind the net and swept out Mike Smith's right leg from underneath him, drawing the ire of the Flames. Mark Giordano initially went after Grant, but Garnet Hathaway charged down the ice to take on Grant himself, and the pair engaged in a fight. At the same time, Sam Bennett found a partner -- Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, by no means a lightweight. Bennett managed to knock Manson to the ice, while Hathaway and Grant fought to a draw. When all was said and done, the teams ended up playing 5-on-5 hockey, as the referees ruled that Grant's goaltender interference penalty offset with an instigator penalty they awarded to Hathaway.
The rough stuff didn't end there. Both teams kept sparring in the dying seconds, with forward Corey Perry taking a little jab at Mike Smith during a TV timeout and Smith then deciding to talk a little smack with defenseman Kevin Bieksa in response. Finally, as the buzzer sounded to end the period, Matthew Tkachuk decided to get his nose a little dirty and chased after Ryan Getzlaf, who responded by stealing the stick out of his hands and chucking it down the ice, Glen Gulutzan-style. Fun!
Shots on goal in the second period finished at a score of 11-7 for Anaheim.
Shots on Goal
Calgary Flames: 7 - Anaheim Ducks: 11
How do you stop the Calgary Flames' momentum?
Easy. This season, the answer has consistently been, without fault: take a penalty.
The Calgary Flames' powerplay is so blisteringly ineffective that there should really be an option for Glen Gulutzan to decline it. Such was the case tonight, when they were awarded a four-minute man-advantage after Matthew Tkachuk was high-sticked by Francois Beauchemin, drawing blood. Not only did the Flames completely fail to muster up ANY sort of offensive pressure during the entire duration of the powerplay, to the point where they decided to throw Matt Stajan out there with the desperate hope of changing things up for the better...
...but they were also scored on! Yes, at the 2:56 mark of the period, Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg stole the puck from the Flames' attackers, broke in on a 2-on-2 rush, and managed to slide the puck through the wickets of Mike Smith to bring the Ducks within one. Silfverberg's 11th of the season was unassisted.
How fast the tides changed. The momentum of the game careened around for a few moments, searching, in limbo, for a new direction, before running into an immovable force which pushed it firmly in favour of the Anaheim Ducks. They poured on the offense for minutes on end, culminating in an equalizer off the stick of Ryan Getzlaf. The Ducks' captain pounded a hard slap shot past Mike Smith at the 6:50 mark of the period to make it a 2-2 hockey game. Getzlaf's 4th goal of the season was assisted by Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson.
The Flames were in trouble. They failed to do anything with another powerplay at the 11:47 mark, and couldn't muster up anything offensively for much of the rest of the period. The Ducks hemmed them in their own zone, and Mike Smith was forced to bail them out with several key saves.
And then, with under thirty seconds left, it happened. One last rush, and it paid off. Johnny Gaudreau found Sean Monahan on the left boards just across the blue line, and Monahan fed Micheal Ferland in the slot. Covered, Ferland threw the puck behind him perfectly onto the tape of a pinching Dougie Hamilton, who walked in on Gibson before sliding the puck between his legs.
3-2. Hamilton's 5th goal of the season was assisted by Ferland and Monahan with just 16 seconds remaining. That did it for the game. Dougie scored the dagger.
Shots on goal in the third period favoured Anaheim once again, 10-7.
Shots on Goal
Calgary Flames: 7 - Anaheim Ducks: 10
- Mike Smith
- Micheal Ferland
- Dougie Hamilton
- Calgary Flames - 31
- Anaheim Ducks - 29
- Micheal Ferland would be up for the Cy Young if he played baseball. He's currently rocking a 17-7 statline.
- Dougie Hamilton's clutch goal was just his second since November 25th. He needs to get going.
- Mike Smith has now put up a .914 save percentage or better in 9 of his last 11 starts.
The Flames have two days off before travelling to St. Paul, Minnesota to take on the Wild on January 9. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet West and 960 at 6:00 MT. Mike Smith will probably start for the Flames, while the Wild's starter is unknown.
Gaudreau - Monahan - Ferland
Tkachuk - Backlund - Brouwer
Bennett - Jankowski - Hathaway
Lazar - Stajan - Mangiapane
Giordano - Hamilton
Brodie - Hamonic
Kulak - Stone
Michael Gould is a guest contributor to Fireside Chat who has been covering the Flames on his own blog - Follow The Flames since 2015.