With a 3-2 regulation win, the Calgary Flames jumped over the Seattle Kraken in the Pacific Division standings. The Kraken still have a higher winning percentage with four games in hand.
Before this one started, a small group was debating in the press box, would you rather be the team that’s a little worn but up to speed having played the night before, or the team that might be a little rusty, but with fresh legs coming out of the holiday break.
For coming out of the blocks in the first period, we settled on the Flames. They lost at home Tuesday night 2-1 to the Edmonton Oilers.
Where it mattered most, in terms of scoring chances, it didn’t seem to matter too much in this one.
In general, the Kraken played at full speed with great tenacity, but break-outs and transitions were a bit sloppy and the first and only power play in six nights was abysmal. Seattle failed on their first three entry opportunities and seemed out of sync.
Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer looked sharp. He robbed Flames forward Adam Ruzicka with a point blank pad save at the 4:06 mark of the first. Less than a minute later at the other end, Kraken winger Daniel Sprong fired wide on a breakaway.
Seattle had most of the good scoring chances as the first frame wore on, but big goalie Dan Vladar looked strong.
Tyler Toffoli banged home a rebound off a sloppy scramble in the crease at 6:22 to open the scoring for the Flames.
Ryan Donato answered for the Kraken at 18:45 on his own rebound. That made it five of the last six games that Donato has tallied a goal.
Tied 1-1 after one, it seemed to suggest that our turning point might come in the second period. Or, we might just see great back-and-forth action with a series of tide changers.
Either way, the Kraken were happy to see big defenceman Jamie Oleksiak snap a shot short-side on Vladar just 1:14 into the second period from the left wing circle. It was “Big Rig’s” 5th goal of the season.
Following this early set-back, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter used his one time-out.
It didn’t work. On the very next shift, Calgary coughed up not one, but two breakaways to Kraken forward Brandon Tanev. One was stopped, the other he shot high.
The Flames would tie it back up at 9:39 on the power play on a Nazem Kadri tip-in.
Big Third Period
The Flames (39) came in one point behind the Kraken (40) in the Pacific Division standings, and even though Seattle has four games in hand, they definitely didn’t want to cough up a hold on third place. With that in mind, the third period was a big opportunity for both teams.
The play was fairly wide open with chances at both ends, with noticeable physicality.
The Kraken took themselves out of their 5-on-5 flow periodically by taking penalties, and it happened again when Oliver Bjorkstrand went off for slashing at 9:44 of the 3rd period. And although the Kraken killed the penalty, sixteen seconds later Jonathan Huberdeau controlled a blocked shot in front, turned, and fired a wrister past Grubauer.
3-2 Flames. They went 1-for-4 on the power play, the Kraken went 0-for-1.
Canucks 3 Stars:
1) Philipp Grubauer – Regardless of the result, “Grooby” was the Kraken’s strongest performer. He made 41 saves.
2) Jordan Eberle – Two assists and three shots on goal in almost 13-minutes.
3) Jamie Oleksiak – Scored a goal, played with a physical edge, and ended up with 19-minutes in ice time.