After losing three straight games, the Calgary Flames rose up to beat the Montreal Canadiens in regulation by a score of 2-0. The Flames were led by this season’s new goalie Jacob Markstrom, who made his own season-high 37 saves and registered his second shutout of the young season.
Riding Johnny Gaudreau’s first-period power-play goal, the Flames pushed the previously high-scoring Canadiens to their first loss. Even better, the Flames hit the .500 mark, and their own record is now 3-3-1.
In fact, the Flames had called a players-only meeting after their three-game losing streak. In the video below, head coach Geoff Ward speaks to the media about the successful impact of that meeting. Ward was impressed with the Flames’ performance following that team meeting.
In this edition of Flames News & Rumors, I’ll comment on the Flames’ victory as well as try to keep Flames’ fans current with any news and rumors coming from the Flames’ organization.
Item One: Matthew Tkachuk Scores a Power-Play Assist
After what had to have been an interesting week for Matthew Tkachuk, he was his old pesky self by scoring a power-play assist and throwing three hits in Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Canadiens. Tkachuk had the hockey assist (the secondary helper) on Johnny Gaudreau’s opening goal early during the first period.
That goal lasted the entire game and, obviously because the Canadiens didn’t score, turned out to be the game-winner. The Canadiens never gave up during the game, but the Flames held them off the scoreboard.
Tkachuk now has three goals and two assists (for five points) in seven games. Interestingly, all but one of his five points have come on the power play, where the Flames have been successful in almost 30 percent of their chances. That puts the team in eighth place in the NHL.
Item Two: Elias Lindholm Scores Assists on Both Flames’ Goals
Elias Lindholm was in on both Flames’ goals, with two assists in Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Canadiens. He also blocked three shots and went 10-for-17 (for 58.8 percent) in the faceoff circle.
First, the 26-year-Lindholm set up Gaudreau’s power-play goal in the first period and also assisted on Mikael Backlund’s empty-net goal as the last minute of regulation time ran out. Lindholm now has scored at least a point in all but one of the Flames seven games this season. He’s at a point-a-game pace with two goals and six assists (for eight points) in seven games played.
As a note, Gaudreau has scored in every Flames’ game this season and has one more point than Lindholm.
Item Three: Dillon Dube Finally Gets in a Game
Dube who has been suffering a lower-body injury, was a game-time decision for Saturday’s game in Montreal. He had missed three games with his injury. The winger was missed, and the Flames had only scored seven goals in the three games he was out.
Just before game time, Dube was cleared to play in Saturday’s game. The 22-year-old has scored two points during his first three games of the season. Although he didn’t score against the Canadiens, the Flames had to have been happy to see him back in the lineup.
The 22-year-old Dube took his place back on the Flames’ top line with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk.
Item Four: Mikael Backlund Adds Empty-Net Insurance Goal
Mikael Backlund’s empty-net goal with 32 seconds left in regulation helped provide the insurance the Flames needed to beat the Canadiens. The 31-year-old Backlund, who is nearing career game No. 700, has scored two goals and two assists in seven contests this season. Last season, he scored 16 goals 29 assists (for 45 points) in 70 games. He still produces.
Item Five: Buddy Robinson Sent Back to the Taxi Squad
Just prior to Saturday’s game, Buddy Robinson was assigned to the taxi squad. The 29-year-old Robinson has yet to play in a game this season, and it’s likely he’ll end up in the AHL before the season has been completed.
What’s Next for the Flames?
The Flames start – of all things – a four-game series with the Winnipeg Jets over the next nine days. That series begins on Monday and Tuesday night in Winnipeg. Then, after taking Wednesday off, the two teams are at it again on Thursday night. Finally, on February 9, they play their fourth game in a row against each other in Calgary.
Flames’ fans should expect to see Markstrom and David Rittich splitting time in the net for the first two games.
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