Flames finding their scoring depth

Secondary scoring helped the Calgary Flames inch back into their playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks. More of it is needed for the Flames to extend and win it. Calgary’s top line of Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau have yet to score even-strength in their Western Conference semifinal, due in large part to Anaheim’s suffocating forward unit of Ryan Kesler, Matt Belesky and Jacob Silfverberg.

CALGARY — Secondary scoring helped the Calgary Flames inch back into their playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks.

More of it is needed for the Flames to extend and win it.

Calgary’s top line of Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau have yet to score even-strength in their Western Conference semifinal, due in large part to Anaheim’s suffocating forward unit of Ryan Kesler, Matt Belesky and Jacob Silfverberg.

Gaudreau’s electrifying power-play goal with 19 seconds to go in Game 3 was the buzz Wednesday as it doused fires on several fronts for the Flames.

The Calder Trophy candidate’s wrist shot on a two-man advantage deadlocked the game and opened the door for Mikael Backlund to score the 4-3 overtime winner. Calgary avoided falling behind three games to none in the series.

Gaudreau’s goal also diffused fans’ resentment over a disallowed Sam Bennett equalizer earlier in the third period, which would have been debated for days in Calgary had the Flames lost.

But overlooked was Joe Colborne and Backlund scoring their first goals and fourth-liner Brandon Bollig collecting his second of this post-season.

“It’s up to us to step up and take some of the pressure off our top line,” Colborne said. “You can’t win a Stanley Cup with just one line going.”

The Flames trail two games to one in the best-of-seven conference semifinal. The Kesler line isn’t likely to let up on Monahan’s unit in Friday’s Game 4, as the Ducks will be hungry to steal a win at the Scotiabank Saddledome and close it out Sunday at the Honda Centre.

Calgary’s top trio mustered a combined three shots on net in Game 3.

“Definitely need to try to outwork them a little bit more,” Gaudreau said of the Ducks’ line shadowing his.

“They’re really skilled defensively and do a great job in their own zone in blocking shots. We’ve got to make sure we’re getting pucks to the point and trying to get in front of the net, try to screen and get some dirty goals there.”

Calgary spent more time in the offensive zone in Game 3 than in the first two in Anaheim. The Flames got more shots away, but not necessarily through as Anaheim blocked 18 to Calgary’s nine.

Monahan, 20, and Hudler each scored 31 goals to lead the Flames this season, while 21-year-old Gaudreau piled up 64 points. Gaudreau’s power-play goal is their lone tally against Anaheim.

Flames coach Bob Hartley retains last line change as the home team Friday and can use it to separate his top line from Kesler’s. But Hartley also wants his firepower on the ice.

“They’re using Kesler basically every faceoff in the defensive zone,” the coach explained. “What do I do? Keep my best offensive unit on the bench because I don’t want them to play against Kesler? We’re not going to do this.

“Best players want to be on the ice. Even though we have two very young players on our most productive unit, I’m not going to shy away from this.”

The bigger, stronger and more rested Ducks are favoured to advance from this series, but the Flames are a stubborn lot. Tuesday’s victory was their 13th of the season when trailing after two periods.

“I don’t think we were anywhere where we wanted to be after Game 2 or 1,” forward Mason Raymond said. “We’ve got a whole new sense of life and Calgary Flames hockey. We want to carry that into Game 4.”

Gaudreau knows enough Flames history to understand Calgary is hypersensitive to disallowed goals. Bennett’s was reminder of one that still rankles today.

Current Flames assistant coach Martin Gelinas looked like he’d scored a possible game-winner for Calgary in Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final against Tampa Bay.

The puck deflected off his skate onto the pad of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, and television angles suggested Khabibulin’s pad was behind the goal-line.

The game wasn’t stopped to review the play and the Lightning went on to win in double overtime, as well as Game 7 to claim the Cup. There are still red Flames jerseys out there with “It Was In” emblazoned on the back.

“I hear about it,” Gaudreau said.

“That would have been a big topic today. Thankfully we tied the game and found a way to win it in overtime.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As postponed NHL season resumes, some fans say the lure of parties will be strong

EDMONTON — As hockey fans gear up for a truncated season to… Continue reading

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

Look out, Mars: Here we come with a fleet of spacecraft

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Mars is about to be invaded by planet… Continue reading

N.W.T. ignored in Alberta monitoring suspension despite agreement: leaked emails

EDMONTON — Alberta suspended environmental monitoring for oilsands companies without notifying the… Continue reading

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Opinion: Anxiety is on the rise as COVID-19 support dries up

The interview with Navdeep Bains kicked off with pandemic pleasantries about how… Continue reading

Garage sale

Our Lady of Peace Parish will hold a multi-family garage sale fundraiser… Continue reading

Washington NFL team dropping ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

WASHINGTON — The Washington NFL franchise announced Monday that it will drop… Continue reading

Canadian forward Evelyne Viens savours NWSL debut at Challenge Cup

A prolific goal-scorer in college, Canadian forward Evelyne Viens has kicked off… Continue reading

In libel case, Depp says Heard hit him with ‘haymaker’ punch

LONDON — Johnny Depp accused Amber Heard of hitting him with a… Continue reading

Kelly Preston, actor and wife of John Travolta, dies at 57

LOS ANGELES — Kelly Preston, who played dramatic and comic foil to… Continue reading

Canmore RCMP respond to multiple hiking injury calls this weekend

EMS and RCMP responded to three separate and unrelated hiking accidents in Kananaskis Country.

You can’t put a price on memories

Some people would rather buy something than sell something. Some people are… Continue reading

Most Read