The pivotal moment for the Calgary Flames came in the third period. On one of the world’s biggest stages at Madison Square Garden, their lead was cut in half seconds after they killed off a New York Rangers powerplay.
How they responded could dictate their fate on the night. It would show what kind of identity they’re building.
They didn’t crumble, they pressed harder and responded with two more goals in a span of a little more than five minutes to cement a 5-1 win over the Rangers and extend their perfect start to the road trip with a third-straight victory.
Maybe most importantly, the goals that Dirt Deviled the air out of one of the NHL’s most intense environments came on Monday from a line that hasn’t contributed as much offence as they’d like through the first four games of the season.
Blake Coleman scored his second of the year to restore the two-goal lead, and Mikael Backlund silenced the rowdy crowd with his first of the year – finishing off a nice dangle with a shot that had surgical precision just over three minutes later.
“I think both those goals are big goals in the third – both Coleman’s and Backlund’s,” said Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter after the game.
First of the season for Flames’ Backlund
Backlund helped make up for fellow Swede Oliver Kylington’s hooking penalty that led to the Rangers goal.
“It wasn’t a very good penalty. I’ve been preaching about not taking penalties and being under sticks and things like that,” said Sutter. “I thought we had that one killed, which is a big penalty to kill there, and they scored as soon as we came out of the box.
“We responded in a good way. That line scored two goals in the third period, so I thought they did a good job.”
There was a lot to like on the night. Andrew Mangiapane scored twice to run up his season total to four. Jacob Markstrom made some timely saves – and 28 in total – against a dangerous Rangers offence. The Flames got a goal from the defence as Chris Tanev opened the scoring. And on a night when the top line faced heavy adversity, the rest of the team stepped up in both ends of the ice.
Mangiapane’s first goal on a turnover in the Rangers end came shortly after Markstrom made a huge pad save on Sammy Blais. His flashiest stop of the night was another example of the kind of timely goaltending Sutter has been looking for.
“It’s a huge difference,” said Markstrom. “Darryl has been talking about it, and myself, too. It’s about timely saves.
“When the other team is pushing you need one or two saves. Mango (Mangiapane) finished it off there to make it 2-0. It’s timely sequences that can switch the momentum.”
For the Calgary Flames, those little details can also be key to building an identity.