The Calgary Flames entered their Sunday night game against New Jersey mired in a scoring slump of sorts. While they'd won two straight games against tough opponents in Washington and Pittsburgh, they'd failed to score more than two goals in regulation since October 14th against Vancouver. In addition, they'd only scored six goals total in their last eight home games.
Something had to give, but at first, it was the high-flying Devils who got the bounce. Calgary native Taylor Hall banged home a rebound just 1:34 into the contest to make it a 1-0 score in favour of New Jersey. Fellow first-overall pick Nico Hischier recorded the lone assist on Hall's 5th goal of the season.
The momentum continued to swing towards New Jersey afterward. First, they killed off a Miles Wood hooking penalty in the opening five minutes, and followed that up by drawing a penalty at 10:06, as Brett Kulak headed off for hooking.
Enter 3M. Or, perhaps more appropriately, 2M.
The Flames sent out Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik to kill the ensuing Devils powerplay, and as was the case four times for the club last season, a shorthanded goal resulted. This time, it was Backlund who put on an aggressive forecheck, forcing the Devils to surrender the puck. This allowed him to find Frolik darting through the zone, and the Czech winger fired a hard wrister through Keith Kinkaid's five-hole to make it an even 1-1 score. Frolik's second goal of the season was assisted by Backlund at 11:07.
Another "M", Micheal Ferland, had a chance to give the Flames their first lead of the game later on in the first, as he was awarded a penalty shot after being taken down by Stefan Noesen on a breakaway at 13:15. Ferland came in on the right side and surveyed Kinkaid, waiting for him to enter the butterfly position: he finally advanced the puck towards the net once Kinkaid was sprawling across the crease, but was unable to elevate the puck over his right pad.
The first period was relatively lopsided in favour of New Jersey, as the shots totaled 16-9 for the road team.
Shots on Goal
Calgary Flames: 9 - New Jersey Devils: 16
The Devils scored another quick goal to get off on the right foot to start the second period. It was a play awfully similar to that which propagated the opening goal, as Nico Hischier once again came in down the side-boards and fired a shot on Mike Smith, who let out a large rebound right onto an attacking Devil's stick. This time, it was Ben Lovejoy who pounced on the puck and fired it into the gaping cage to make it 2-1 New Jersey. Lovejoy's first of the year was assisted by Hischier and Jimmy Hayes at the 1:34 mark of the first.
Ever heard of a player referred to as having "stone hands"? While, after seeing his goal tonight, surely lots of players will wish to have Stone's hands, as it was defenseman Michael Stone who knotted the score at 2 goals apiece 11:11 into the second. Fishing the puck off the boards, Kris Versteeg placed a trickly behind-the-back pass onto Stone's tape at the point, and the 27-year-old defender unleashed a bullet past Matt Stajan's screen in front to even the score. Stone's first of the year was assisted by Versteeg and Michael Frolik.
Finally, the Flames would break the 2-goal curse and grab their first lead of the night just 1:16 later. This time, it was Sean Monahan (who else?) who lit the lamp, taking a great pass in tight and slipping a wrister just over the right pad of Kinkaid to make it a 3-2 Flames lead. Monahan's 8th goal of the year was assisted by Micheal Ferland and Johnny Gaudreau at 12:27 of the second.
Ten seconds later, the Devils answered right back. This goal was largely thanks to Mike Smith misplaying the puck, as he attempted to ring it around the boards and out of the Flames' zone. However, the puck was stopped by Brian Gibbons, who quickly fired it past an unsettled Smith to make it 3-3. Gibbons' 7th of the season came at 12:37 and was unassisted.
Shots on goal in the second vastly favoured Calgary, 14-7.
Shots on Goal
Calgary Flames: 14 - New Jersey Devils: 7
No goal for Nico.
- Mike Smith, probably
With the Devils pressing for the go-ahead goal early in the third period, they got their best chance just 3:51 in, as Nico Hischier collected a rebound on the doorstep and attempted to throw it past a sprawling Mike Smith. Using the last of his energy, Smith stretched to snag the puck, miraculously keeping the score tied to the delight of the Saddledome crowd.
Feeding off the energy generated by this sequence, the Flames restored their one-goal lead later in the period. After a clean zone-entry, Johnny Gaudreau chipped a neat pass past Mirco Mueller right onto the tape of Micheal Ferland, who redeemed his earlier penalty shot miss by firing the puck right by Kinkaid to make it 4-3 Flames. Ferland's fourth of the season was assisted by Gaudreau and Monahan at 6:54.
Exactly one period after Michael Stone tied the game for the Flames, Andy Greene did the same for the Devils. Greene, the Devils' captain, picked up the puck on the left boards and threw a weak wrister towards the net, but it squeaked its way through Mike Smith for the game-tying goal at 11:11 of the third. Greene's goal, his first of the year (also like Stone's), was assisted by Jesper Bratt and Ben Lovejoy.
A few minutes later, disaster (nearly) struck for the Flames. Devils speedster Miles Wood was sent on a breakaway, and fellow 44 (and the much slower) Matt Bartkowski was assigned to try to catch him. Big mistake. Wood was given a penalty shot of his own, and very nearly converted on it. He entered from the left, with Mike Smith way out of his crease to challenge him, and came close to putting the puck over Smith's left pad, but missed the net entirely.
After that near-miss, both teams played rather conservatively to ensure the one point they'd gain by going to extra time. Shots in the third were 9-5 Calgary.
Shots on Goal
Calgary Flames: 9 - New Jersey Devils: 5
Overtime was a dandy. Both teams generated a ton of offense and controlled the puck for vast stretches of time.
The last two minutes were dictated largely by the Flames, culminating with one of their best chances of the entire game in the final minute. Kris Versteeg sent Michael Frolik in all alone with a great spinning pass, and Frolik, looking for his second goal of the game, failed to even hit the net, sending it well wide of the net.
Finally, in the dying seconds, the Devils were sent in on an odd-man rush of their own. This time, it was Taylor Hall carrying the puck in with Jesper Bratt on the left side. Hall elected to keep and shoot it, but he too contracted miss-the-net-itis, sending it skyward.
Both teams managed 2 shots in overtime.
Shots on Goal
Calgary Flames: 2 - New Jersey Devils: 2
The Devils opted to shoot first, sending Taylor Hall over the boards to kick things off in the skills competition. The crafty winger was denied by Mike Smith easily.
Sean Monahan stepped up first for the Flames, and he delivered like few others can, sending a perfect wrist shot over Kinkaid's glove and bar-down on the right side of the net. 1-0 Flames.
Up next for Jersey: Jesper Bratt. He tried to get Mike Smith moving side-to-side, but it didn't work, as the Flames' goaltender stopped Bratt's attempt effortlessly.
Kris Versteeg shot next for Calgary. Attempting to get Kinkaid to move one way before pulling it back the other way, Versteeg was denied by the outstretched pad of the goaltender to keep it at 1-0.
Drew Stafford had to score for New Jersey, or the game would end. He deked out Smith and flicked a backhander high blocker-side on Smith, which tickled the twine to even things up at 1.
Matthew Tkachuk could win it for the Flames with a goal in the third round. Opting to go the same route as his attempt against Nashville, Tkachuk lured Kinkaid over to one side of the net before flicking a curveball high glove-side, which beat him and won the game for the Flames. Final score: 5-4.
- Micheal Ferland
- Ben Lovejoy
- Johnny Gaudreau
- Calgary Flames - 34
- New Jersey Devils - 30
- Johnny Gaudreau is hotter than the surface of Venus. The winger is now tied for fourth in NHL scoring with 18 points in 14 games.
- Sean Monahan is also ripping it up. Only seven players have more goals than he does (8).
- For just the third time this year, Mike Smith recorded a save percentage under .900, but it mattered not -- he still got the win.
- Matthew Tkaclutch. He now has two shootout winners on the year.
Game five of this seven-game homestand goes on Tuesday, as the Flames welcome the Vancouver Canucks to town. Eddie Lack will likely get the start for the Flames, while Jaromir Jagr could return from injury and Rasmus Andersson could make his season debut. Puck drop goes at 7:00 MT on Sportsnet West and 960.
Gaudreau - Monahan - Ferland
Tkachuk - Backlund - Frolik
Bennett - Jankowski - Lazar
Versteeg - Stajan - Brouwer
Giordano - Hamilton
Brodie - Stone
Kulak - Bartkowski
Michael Gould is a guest contributor to Fireside Chat who has been covering the Flames on his own blog - Follow The Flames since 2015.