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DEVILS IN THE DETAILS

Flames answer call of their coach, coming out strong and executing from the opening whistle en route to 5-2 win over visiting New Jersey

by TY PILSON @typilson / CalgaryFlames.com

Flames head coach Bill Peters isn't a man to mince words.

He's old school - straight to the point, no fluff, no beating around the bush.

Despite his team winning three of their last four games heading into Thursday night's tilt with the visiting New Jersey Devils, he wasn't happy with their play. 

 

Video: Brendan Parker recaps the win over the Devils

When asked how to fix what ailed them, he was - not surprisingly - right to the point.

"Our starts, emotional engagement, physical engagement, and our execution with the puck," he deadpanned Wednesday follow practice, a day after a heart-stopping, edge-of-your-seat 4-3 overtime victory against the Arizona Coyotes at the Scotiabank Saddledome, a win that required a late rally to dig out of a 3-1 hole.

"You've got to provide a dimension. Everyone's clear on what they do to help a hockey team win games, and you've got to provide that each and every night and start on time. Our starts haven't been good enough, so you've got to get prepared - individually - to start, and that collectively it gives us a chance to start on time."

They were relying too much on late-game heroics and third-period desperation hockey to get their points.

They needed consistency, and they needed it off the hop.

When they took to the ice against the Garden State Gang, they did, as asked, hit the ground running, so to speak.

They were physical, finished their checks, skated with purpose, moved the puck with crisp tape-to-tape passes, and came back hard to break up Devils' possessions in their zone.

It was one of their stronger opening frames, which the team built off of for a four-goal second period en route to a 5-2 win.

They outshot the Devils 17-4 in that dominating middle stanza, 26-13 in the first 40 minutes.

Noah Hanifin had a big night for the Flames, scoring a goal and adding a couple helpers, while Big Save Dave enjoyed a relatively quiet night by his recent standards turning aside 21 shots.

The refs kept their whistles quiet early in the game, leading to quick end-to-end action.

They finally sent someone to the bin at the 12:46 mark, Nikita Gusev banished for tripping Tobias Rieder, the speedy forward turning up ice with the puck after a turnover but having his skate whacked out from under him.

The Flames struggled to get pucks on net during the man-up chance, failing to register a shot.

A scant 58 seconds after the penalty expired, rookie Jack Hughes - the 2019 first-overall pick - split Calgary's D, bouncing of Mark Giordano and then skating in alone on Rittich, using a lightning-quick forehand-backhand-forehand to wrap the puck around the Calgary 'tender.

The Flames started the second period on a powerplay with Wayne Simmonds off for slashing, Hanifin nearly knotting things up with his wrister beating Mackenzie Blackwood but ringing off the inside of the pipe and firing out into the far corner.

No matter.

Derek Ryan took it upon himself a few minutes later to split the D himself at full speed, before cutting in on Blackwood and deftly depositing a lovely backhand over the goalie's blocker 3:03 into the middle stanza.

Michael Stone - who drew back into the lineup on the blueline - got a helper, as did TJ Brodie.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: One for the highlight reels, @DerekAllenRyan.#NJDvsCGY | #Flames pic.twitter.com/MD9FdfVfne

 

Later it was Mikael Backlund sending a backhand pass across to Andrew Mangiapane, the youngster just tipping it wide.

The Devils, however, didn't miss when they got a similar opportunity seconds later, Hughes feeding a puck on his forehand to Gusev who put it into the open cage to restore the lead at the 5:21.

But then it was all Flames.

Sean Monahan tied it back up with the two teams skating 4-on-4, doing what he does best - sneaking into open ice around the crease and then depositing the pass, this time coming courtesy of Hanifin with Johnny Gaudreau getting the other helper.

It was Monahan's fourth goal of the season and fourth point in as many games.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: That pass 😘That finish 😍#NJDvsCGY | #Flames pic.twitter.com/4YMOk1HzqH

 

Backlund - who was dangerous all night dictating play in the offensive but unable to pull the trigger - was rewarded for that hard work with a powerplay goal that won't make the prettiest goal reel, but did make the game 3-2 for the homeside.

As they say, they don't ask how - just how many.

The centre flung the puck towards the net from outside on the boards as he skated in and it went off the outstretched reaching stick of Devils defenceman Andy Greene.

Hanifin got another point on the play.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: 🥰#NJDvsCGY | #Flames pic.twitter.com/HMVQnpd0vZ

 

The Flames kept pouring it on, the best opportunity Gaudreau getting a crack all alone on the doorstep but losing the handle on the puck as he tried to deke.

On a late powerplay, Hanifin's seeing-eye pointshot through traffic found paydirt shortside with just 14 ticks left in the second.

 

Video: NJD@CGY: Hanifin flings puck home on the power play

 

One tick past halfway in the third, it was Johnny Hockey's turn to light the lamp, making no mistake after taking a stretch pass from Monahan and getting behind the defence, swooping across the crease to flip a backhand home, his second goal in as many outings.

Elias Lindholm got the other helped to extend his points streak to nine games. Coming into the tilt with the Devils, he had five goals and 10 points in eight games.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Got 'em saying wow.#NJDvsCGY | #Flames pic.twitter.com/59wQ8yebSv

 

Dad Guy sure liked that goal.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Papa Hockey is A MOOD. pic.twitter.com/mvQBh5wO5c

 

THEY SAID IT:

PETERS ON IF IT WAS MOST COMPLETE GAME HIS TEAM HAS HAD THIS SEASON:

"Ya, I think so. I really do. I think we started on time, I thought they got a little momentum when they got their first powerplay but second period was very good and I thought we managed the puck real well in the third … a lot of good things in the game tonight."

 

NOAH HANIFIN ON PLAY OF TEAM:

"I thought that was the identity we gotta to play to. I thought we kept it simple. We got pucks in deep, and we forechecked well tonight which is why I thought we had a lot of offensive chances and got pucks behind their d-men. It was a good night all around for us."

 

HANIFIN ON KILLER INSTINCT:

"I think something that was good to see to was we didn't really take our foot off the gas pedal. I thought we still, even in the third, were still trying to make plays. When you get a lead in the third you don't want to let off at all. I thought we did a good job of that." 

 

MIKAEL BACKLUND ON VICTORY:

"It was a big win for us, for sure. Over the last few weeks here we've gone into a lot of third periods with some leads and found a way to lose games. It was a big challenge for us tonight and I thought we did really well in the third. Like you said, keep pushing. It was a big step for our team to play a full, solid 60 minutes. I don't know if we've done that at all this year. So, was nice to see all the players get involved in playing well."

 

DEREK RYAN ON CONFIDENCE:

"I think it can build our confidence. We've been talking about how we need to play with a little more swagger, a little more confidence and I think a win like that - not only the score - dominating, controlling the play, that can build our confidence."

 

RYAN ON PLAYING COMPLETE GAME:

"We've been talking about needing to play a full 60 minutes. That was probably the closest we've been right there. We have to continue to do that moving forward."

 

ONE-TIMERS:

The Flames recalled defenceman Brandon Davidson from Stockton Thursday morning and sent fellow blueliner Oliver Kylington down to the Heat ... The Flames have a record of 5-3-0 against Eastern Conference opponents and a record of 3-3-0 against the Metropolitan Divison ... Stampeders O-lineman Derek Dennis dropped by Flames TV during the first intermission to talk about this Sunday's CFL West Division Semi-Final tilt at McMahon against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. (click here for tickets)

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Intermission Viewing: @6BONECRUSHER3 is on #Flames TV Live this evening, talking about the @calstampeders playing in the West Semi-Final! pic.twitter.com/7m9EyL4Yfk

 

THE LINEUP:

The lines and D-pairings to start last night's tilt (starters in bold).

FORWARDS

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm

Andrew Mangiapane - Mikael Backlund - Matthew Tkachuk

Sam Bennett - Derek Ryan - Alan Quine

Milan Lucic - Mark Jankowski - Tobias Rieder

DEFENCE

Mark Giordano - Travis Hamonic

Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson

TJ Brodie - Michael Stone

GOALTENDER

David Rittich

 

UP NEXT:

The Flames continue this lengthy homestand with a Hockey Night in Canada tilt with the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues Saturday night (click here for tickets). Then it's Seguin, Benn and the Dallas Stars rounding things out on Nov. 13 (click here for tickets).

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