Plus/Minus: The Good And Bad As Flames Beat The Bolts 6-3
The Calgary Flames played one of their most complete games in a win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon, beating them 6-3 with plenty of positives.
Every Calgary Flames game against the Tampa Bay Lightning seems to bring out the intensity.
Saturday afternoon’s matinee meeting was no exception. Milan Lucic dropped the gloves for the first time this season. The goal-scoring action was see-saw, and fans at the Saddledome enjoyed one of the most spirited games the Matthew Tkachuk-less Flames have played all season. It was a big response to the dud they dropped against the Colorado Avalanche just a few nights ago.
This one ended in a 6-3 Flames victory with plenty of positives. Nazem Kadri, Tyler Toffoli, Rasmus Andersson, Dillon Dube all scored on Andrei Vasilevskiy. Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman put pucks in the empty net to seal the victory.
Here are some pluses and minuses to take away:
+ Dan Vladar stars once again
No goalie is stopping a Steven Stamkos slapper from the middle of the faceoff circle. It was labelled for the top corner. The second Lightning goal was a bit unlucky with Vladar’s pokecheck banking back into the empty side off Vladislav Namestnikov’s leg and in. And despite a much smaller workload than his counterpart, the Calgary Flames goaltender had to make some massive stops to put his team in position to win. His anticipation and technique were at the forefront on a couple of dangerous plays — especially when the Bolts were on the powerplay.
He was easily the first star in my eyes. He lost track of the puck on Anthony Cirelli’s third-period goal but none of the skaters in front of Vladar bothered to cover him.
Vladar now has 11 straight games without a regulation loss (8-0-3) and has been the team’s most consistent goaltender in a more limited role.
– Another brief letdown that could have changed the game
All year, we’ve talked about the Flames’ tendency to give up quick goals — whether that’s allowing a goal shortly after they score, or the ones that come very early or very late in a period, or giving them up in bunches.
The Lightning nearly got goals on three consecutive shots in the second period. Stamkos and Namestnikov’s tallies came 48 seconds apart midway through the frame. And they nearly had a third on the next shot that Vladar rejected with one of his quick directional slides.
+ The Calgary Flames had a lot of fight in them
Those letdowns the team has experienced frequently this season are often followed up by a total mental collapse. They’ve let them affect their play, crush their confidence, and cost them points. Despite a couple of lulls, the Flames played one of their most engaged games of the season. They played the same way for the full 60 minutes, regardless of the score.
That’s the key to any success the may have down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Lucic might have set the tone with his early scrap but the team was dialled in physically and emotionally all afternoon.
– Lack of discipline
Blake Coleman’s four-minute high-sticking penalty midway through third period was the kind of call the Flames have to avoid. He might have been a little unlucky in the way it turned out — with his crosscheck landing high and drawing blood for the extra two — but you just can’t put yourself in that situation at that stage of a game. The Flames were up by a pair with a 4-2 lead at the time. Another massive save by Vladar — this time on Corey Perry — bailed Coleman out as they successfully killed it off.
Thankfully, another positive was the Calgary Flames’ special teams. They went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and started the game off with a powerplay goal from Kadri.
Next up is the return of Johnny Gaudreau with the Columbus Blue Jackets visiting on Monday.