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Calgary Flames

Takeaways as Flames Force Four Goal Third Period Comeback



Adam Ruzicka

It was a game rife with drama and loaded with hazardous turnovers as the Flames scored four third period goals to blast the Ottawa Senators 6-3 Tuesday night. Noah Hanifin led the offence with a goal, two assists, and a +5 rating, and five Flames players recorded multi-point games. Returning to a .500 points percentage, Calgary now holds an 18-18-5 record as the team approaches the halfway mark of the 2023-2024 Regular Season.  

Scoring opened early in the first period off a broken play that saw Senators defenceman Jared Bernard-Docker gain the high slot, with several Flames players forming a screen in front of goaltender Jacob Markstrom. The Calgary-born Bernard-Docker fired a pinball shot that rebounded off rookie Yan Kuznetsov to gain a 1-0 Senators lead. A harrowing welcome to the NHL moment for the first-game Flame. 

Fellow Calgary rookie Connor Zary answered back for the Flames only 42 seconds later off a Senators regroup attempt that resulted in a pass straight to the Saskatoon sniper. Zary caught Joonas Korpisalo moving and blasted a wrist shot to a vacant right side of the net.   

A dash of controversy was added to the outing when Ottawa forward Ridly Greig crashed headfirst into a sprawling Markstrom. Dominik Kubalik cleaned up the trash on a yawning cage to put the Senators up 2-1 with less than three seconds remaining in the period.  

The Flames evened the score at 2-2 early in the second when Elias Lindholm willed a turnover behind the Senators net and kicked the puck over to Jonathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau hit Yegor Sharangovich for the pass, and the puck found the top right corner of the Ottawa net.  

The Senators re-took the lead later in the second off a nifty feed from Claude Giroux to Brady Tkachuk, who made a quick side-step of Elias Lindholm and sniped one past Marksrom’s glove.  

Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil combined on a sequence at the blue line to set up Noah Hanifin for a walk into the slot. A backhand shot found its way past Korpisalo’s glove to tie the game at 3-3 with 19:13 to go in the final period.  

The turnovers continued seven minutes later with a Senators gaffe on the half-boards that led to Noah Hanifin walking the blue line with the puck. Hanifin broke his stick on the shot, but Blake Coleman recovered possession and pulled the puck past Korpisalo for the Flames first lead of the game.  

Yet another scramble ensued on a Noah Hanifin shot seven minutes later. Yegor Sharangovich found the rebound on the right side of the net and snapped a shot to make it 5-3 Flames.  

Coleman capped the game with 2:48 remaining on the clock with a goal into the empty net. Takeaways 

Rough Times 

You can sense the frustration circulating among that Senators group. Team captain Brady Tkachuk led the way with a few outbursts. A goal and a -4 differential at 5-on-5 on the stat sheet will stand as a token of a struggling team trying to find a way back to contention.  

Line Two 

Martin Pospisil appeared to live under the skin of Tkachuk over three periods. The 24-year-old had possibly his biggest game of the season, including an assist and a whopping seven hits. 

Pospisil’s linemate and partner in crime, Connor Zary, exhibited exceptional talent on Tuesday night. The 24th overall pick in 2020 dictated the pace of play when the puck was put on his stick. Answering back with an individual effort less than a minute after Ottawa opened the scoring, Zary is breathing rare air in terms of rookies this season.  

Nazem Kadri was no slouch on that line, making a bevy of exceptional passes. The high-tempo NHL veteran finished the night with two assists and a +4 rating.  

Between the Pipes 

Another night, another strong performance from Jacob Markstrom. The 33-year-old Swede has only posted one sub-.900 save percentage performance since returning from a fractured finger on Dec. 18. (.879 vs. LA Dec. 23).  

Rising Stock 

Noah Hanifin put up an outstanding performance. A goal, an assist, and a +5 rating. Hanifin, Zary, and Kadri all outscored the opposition 4-0 at even strength while on the ice. Head Coach Ryan Huska had high praise for the pending UFA. “Might have been his best game I’ve seen him play. He was really good for us tonight.” 

Fourth Line, Flat Line 

While much of the team was celebrating a raucous third period comeback; there appeared to be some quiet frustration going on with the Flames fourth forward unit. AJ Greer, Adam Ruzicka, and Walker Duehr quietly logged 7:15 of ice time together with little to show for it. The Senators scored a goal against them on their first shift, although that sequence can be largely attributed to a Nick Desimone turnover on the half boards.  

AJ Greer may have solidified his spot with five hits over 11:20 of ice time, but the other two may fall victim to another game day swap when Dillon Dube returns to the lineup. Adding to the pressure; it’s just a matter of time before Jakob Pelletier starts pushing for a return to the big team.

The Calgary Flames face off against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday for an 8 p.m. start.