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5 THINGS - FLAMES @ BLUE JACKETS

In the home stretch of a long road trip, the Flames head to Columbus to battle the Blue Jackets in the first of back-to-back nights

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (7-6-2) at BLUE JACKETS (5-5-3)

5:00 p.m. MT | TV: Sportsnet West | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN

2018-19 Season Series: 2-0-0

 

Video: Flames taking on the Blue Jackets tonight in Columbus

 

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Matthew Tkachuk (13)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (9)

Blue Jackets:

Points - Pierre-Luc Dubois (10)
Goals - Dubois (6)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 16.7% (21st) / PK - 87.5% (3rd)

Blue Jackets:

PP - 14.6% (25th) / PK - 73.2 (26th)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:    

Shot Attempts: 51.10% (14th)
High-Danger Chances: 47.00% (23rd)

Blue Jackets:

Shot Attempts: 49.40% (19th)
High-Danger Chances: 51.34% (14th)

 

1. US

The Flames are in the home stretch of a season-long, 10-day trip, and enter the penultimate road clash on the heels of a dramatic 6-5 overtime win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

The Flames erased a 4-1, third-period deficit, then rallied again to even the score and send the game to overtime after the Predators pulled ahead once again with 1:21 to play.

Matthew Tkachuk scored the tying goal with 39 seconds left in regulation, neatly depositing Sean Monahan 's rebound, before winning the game with only 1.3 seconds left in 3-on-3 overtime, with a miraculous effort that will stand as one of the best in NHL history.

With the clock winding down, and a rolling puck sitting loose in the high slot, Tkachuk showed great awareness and athletic ability, adjusting his body at full speed, reaching back between his own legs and - somehow - getting enough torque on the puck to place it high over Pekka Rinne's right shoulder.

Impossible.

Or so we thought.

Tkachuk joked that he tries the move "at least once" a game, but "never when I'm right in the middle of the slot in OT with one second left."

Indeed, he usually tries it at the goal line, shielding the puck with his body from the traffic in front. It worked in a game just last year against the New York Islanders, but the puck had to travel only a few feet - not the 25, 30 or so this one sailed to go cookie-jar on a former Vezina winner.

"Chucky did a good job dragging guys into the battle," said Head Coach Bill Peters. "The 6-on-5, I thought it was a real good play down into (Monahan) - he didn't score on that, but Chucky's at the side of the net and scores back-door.

"Then overtime, what can you say about that? I don't think I've seen a shot like that, from that far out, with that much on it."

 

Video: CGY@NSH: Tkachuk goes between his legs for OT winner

 

Of course, No. 19's heroics would not have been possible if not for the sum. Derek Ryan , Rasmus Andersson , Elias Lindholm and Alan Quine also had goals, while David Rittich made 31 saves - including one on a 2-on-0 early in the third off Predators captain Roman Josi that kept the game close.  

The Flames are not expected to make any lineup changes tonight. Rittich will start in goal, putting him into a tie with Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the league lead in appearances with 13.

Rittich enters the game with a .906 save percentage and a 3.02 goals-against average.

 

Video: "He's a difference maker."

 

2. THEM

David Perron scored the OT winner as the defending Cup champ St. Louis rallied to hand the Blue Jackets a 4-3 overtime loss last night in the Show-Me State.

Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist, Sonny Milano and Oliver Bjorkstrand each had singles, and rookie goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 23 saves for the Blue Jackets (5-5-3), who are winless in their past three (0-2-1).

The Jackets had a 3-1 lead evaporate midway through the second as Brayden Schenn and Oskar Sundqvist found the back of the net 27 seconds apart to level the score.

"We took a step in the right direction, for sure," Columbus Head Coach John Tortorella told the club's website. "We played a good hockey game. Third period, I thought we were on our heels just a little bit and at certain times at the end, but it's a step in the right direction.

"To lose that way, it's a tough one."

The Jackets out-shot the Blues 30-27, and had the majority of the quality scoring chances throughout.

In the defeat, Dubois extended his personal point streak to five games (3-3-6), tying a career high.

Milano, meanwhile, has three goals and six points in his last seven games.

With Sergei Bobrovsky signing with the Florida Panthers over the off-season, the Jackets' young goaltending tandem of Merzlikins (3.91 GAA) and starter Joonas Korpisalo (3.37) have combined for a 27th-ranked .885 save percentage.

 

3. US VS. THEM

This is the first of two meetings between these two teams, and the only head-to-head matchup to be held at Nationwide Arena this season.

Last year, the Flames took care of business in both encounters, winning a wild one 9-6 in Columbus on Dec. 4, before sweeping the two-game set with a 4-2 victory on Mar. 19 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Johnny Gaudreau led all skaters with five points (3G, 2A) in the series, while three others - Matthew Tkachuk, Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan - had four points each.

Cam Atkinson led the Jackets offensively with a hat trick in the high-scoring home loss.

These teams won't hook up again until Mar. 3, 2020 in Calgary.

The Flames hold an all-time record of 27-25-8 against the Jackets.

 

Video: "We found a way to get our swagger back."

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: Matthew Tkachuk now shares the record for the latest overtime goal (4:58) in Flames franchise history with his highlight-reel snipe in Thursday's comeback win over the Predators. Tkachuk picked up a total of three points in that affair, including 110th assist of his career, which ties him for the second-most assists in franchise history prior to a player's 22nd birthday. Additionally, with both the game-tying goal and OT winner, Tkachuk joined with Eddy Beers (Oct. 30, 1983 vs. VAN) as just the second player in franchise history to score a tying goal in the final minute of regulation and a game-winning goal in the final 60 seconds of overtime. ... THAT: With a pair of helpers on Thursday, Johnny Gaudreau now has 400 points in his NHL career. The 26-year-old has required the fifth fewest games (409) in franchise history to achieve that total, behind Kent Nilsson (298), Joe Nieuwendyk (364), Theo Fleury (378) and Guy Chouinard (391). 'Johnny Hockey' now owns sole possession of 13th on the Flames' all-time scoring list, passing Nilsson (398 points), and trailing Lanny McDonald (406) for 12th. ... THE OTHER: Elias Lindholm's nine goals in the opening month of the season are the most since Valeri Bure's 10 tallies in October of 1999. The 24-year-old forward leads the Flames in goals so far this season and has a total of 12 points (9G, 3A) in 15 games.

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Mark Giordano

Giordano had an assist on Alan Quine's initial game-tying goal against the Predators to pick up his 10th point of the season (3-7-10 in 15 GP). The 2018-19 Norris Trophy recipient became the fourth Flames defenceman since 1998-99 to collect at least 10 points through his first 15 games in consecutive campaigns. 'Gio' is coming off a year where he had 17 goals and a career-high 74 points in 78 regular-season games.

Blue Jackets - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Bjorkstrand is coming off a multi-point effort last night, earning his 100th career point in the process, and leading the Jackets with five shots on goal.

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