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FINDING THEIR 'RANGE'

Flames snap losing run at home, jumping out to 2-0 lead on pair of breakaway goals en route to victory

by TY PILSON @typilson / CalgaryFlames.com

The game plan was simple: Don't get down early.

Come out with some jump in their step - be prepared to play from the opening whistle.

Well, they certainly had jump, as in two-early-breakaway-goals type jump.

The Flames built a 2-0 lead en route to a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

 

Video: Brendan Parker wraps up the 4-3 win over the Rangers

 

In their last two outings, the Flames found themselves in deep 3-0 holes before the three-quarter pole of the first period.

Both times in the comfy confines of the 'Dome.

After that, it was all about playing catch-up.

Chasing the game.

Stretching things out, taking chances and risks to try and facilitate a comeback.

Not something you want to do in the NHL, let alone in back-to-back tilts.

Against the Canucks on Dec. 29, they clawed back to make it 4-2 before Vancouver iced it with a late empty-netter.

Two nights later on New Year's Eve, they got closer, two quick third-period goals 1:18 apart making it a 4-3 affair versus the Blackhawks, but again the visitors got a late empty-netter to leave with two points.

So Thursday night in the first tilt of 2020, they were hyper-focused on avoiding the same pratfalls in the final game of their current homestand.

They got off to an incredible start.

An errant pass by the Rangers deep in Calgary's zone led to the puck squirting out into the neutral zone, where Johnny Gaudreau easily won a foot race to the puck against New York d-man Jacob Trouba and took off, stalling on a forehand, before going backhand and sliding the puck home five-hole as he cut across the crease.

Lundqvist hung his head and looked at the ice as he slid some 10 feet out of his crease after the puck went in.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: What. A. Move. All-Star worthy, we'd say ...Make sure to vote Johnny and get him to the #NHLAllStar Weekend! https://t.co/484cu5uSrH pic.twitter.com/SF9sIZFqj5

 

Speaking of Johnny, remember he's part of the Last Men In voting for the upcoming all-star game in St. Louis. Click here to vote.

 

 

But after that goal, the Flames promptly put themselves in a tight squeeze, going down a pair with both Sam Bennett and then Derek Ryan sent to the bin for hooking, giving the Rangers more than a minute of a two-man advantage.

However, things keep looking bright as Mikael Backlund intercepted a cross-ice pass up high from Tony DeAngelo than was meant for Mika Zibanejad and hit the jets, staying just ahead of those two pursuing Rangers and scoring a near carbon copy of Gaudreau's tally to make it 2-0 at 7:16 of the first.

Two Flames goals.

Both tallies unassisted.

Just like that, 2-0 homeside.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: 👀 pic.twitter.com/aJ6t5w7S32

 

But remember that two-man advantage?

Just 26 seconds after Backlund's marker, Trouba wired a low shot from the left point that went off the far post and in behind Cam Talbot, just before the first penalty expired.

Thirty-six seconds after that, Filp Chytil beat Talbot with another powerplay tally to knot things up.

Recent second-overall pick and highly-touted youngster Kaapo Kakko picked up an assist on the goal.

Lundqvist settled down a bit after that, showing his former Vezina form when he absolutely robbed Sean Monahan with a stellar glove save of the windmill variety on a quick, hard shot from the slot while Calgary was on their first powerplay.

Ryan put the Flames back out in front at 13:18, managing to hold onto the puck during a battle with Chris Kreider in the high slot, before regaining his balance and spinning and firing a wrister that deflected past Lundqvist far-side off one of his own players. 

 

 Tweet from @NHLFlames: Pucks on net, kids. pic.twitter.com/LJ9DSqkSoU

 

Bennett slipped into open ice down near the corner early in the second period and took a pass all alone, walking out in front and trying the now well-known between-the-legs Matthew Tkachuk-style shot, but Lundqvist sniffed it out and made the stop.

After a lengthy Rangers possession in the the Flames zone, Kakko skated the puck up near the blue-line and then across the ice, firing a shot through a line of four bodies between him and the net that Talbot didn't see to make it 3-3 at 5:46.

Again, it wasn't long until there was another goal.

And it was a beauty.

Gaudreau gained the zone on a rush and put long-distance cross-ice pass to Noah Hanifin, who made a perfect one-touch pass to Monahan in the slot, and he made no mistake firing it low at 8:22.

It was a heckuva way for the Flames defenceman to notch his 100th career assist.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: 🎵 Shoot 'em down turn around come on Mony 🎵 pic.twitter.com/ec2BeNlfyA

 

Plenty of chances in the third - including three nice ones by Monahan - but there was no more scoring in the game.

 

THEY SAID IT:

Gaudreau on what he was thinking on breakaway:

"Try to score."

 

Video: "We did a really good job in the defensive zone"

 

Backlund on his tally against countryman Lundqvist:

"It's always cool to score - I shouldn't say always, as I've only done it once before - but ya, it felt good scoring on Lundqvist, for sure. Been growing up watching him a lot. Ya, good feeling."

 

Video: "It felt good scoring on Lundqvist, for sure"

 

Interim coach Geoff Ward on his thoughts from bench on pair of breakaways:

"I hope they score. We've seen a lot of nights where we get those chances and they don't go in. But tonight both guys made nice moves to get it in the back of the net and it was a huge lift for us, got our bench going anm awful lot. Especially when you're able to get a 5-oin-3 shorthanded goal."

 

Video: "You could feel a better focus going into the game"

 

Ward on his team's start:

"I thought our start was a lot better. We've been talkling about that for a couple of games now. But we found a way to get ahead of the game tonight which was huge for us. And when they came back and tied it, we found a way to stay in front of it so credit to the guys, we bent a bit but we didn't break. We kept playing from the right sid eof the puck and eventually we got rewarded with a couple of goals later from it."

 

Talbot on his performance:

"I knew if I went out there and kept playing my game the run support would come andf tonight it kind of seemed like it came in bunches there in the first period and then kind of became more of a checking game after that. So, it was nice to get those goals early but, you know, the win is the most important thing."

 

Video: "I knew the run support would come"

 

Gaudreau on Talbot:

"He's been great for us. We haven't the best in front of him this season so was nice to get him that win. I think he deserved it."

 

Video: "Johnny came out like a cannon"

 

ONE-TIMERS:

Prior to last night's game, Michael Frolik was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. Click here for more details ... The Flames now have a record of 11-5-2 against Eastern Conference opponents, and are 5-5-1 against the Metropolitan Division ... The last time Tkachuk played the New York Rangers was on March 15, 2019, where he had five points in the game becoming the youngest Flame in franchise history to record five points in a game ... Rangers' defenceman Adam Fox was drafted by the Flames in the third round of the 2016 draft. Fox was a part of the trade with Carolina that brought Hanifin and Elias Lindholm to Calgary. Fox picked up three helpers in the game.

 

THE LINEUP:

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Your @Schneiders starters this evening! pic.twitter.com/jfaOvzTmCr

 

The trios and D-pairings to start the tilt:

FORWARDS

Matthew Tkachuk - Elias Lindholm - Andrew Mangiapane

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Mikael Backlund

Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Dillon Dube

Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Tobias Rieder

DEFENCE

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson

GOALTENDER

Cam Talbot

 

UP NEXT:

The Flames head out on the road for a two-game set in Minnesota on Sunday and Chicago Tuesday. They return to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 9 to host the Wild (click here for tickets). Then, it's a Hockey Night in Canada matchup with the Oilers at the 'Dome on Jan. 11 (click here for tickets).

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