The Calgary Flames rode a three-goal second period and a 41-save performance from back-up goaltender David Rittich to post a 4-2 decision over the Florida Panthers, extending their winning streak to six games.
With the game scoreless after an exciting first period, the Panthers got on the board first when leading scorer Jonathan Huberdeau fed Evgenii Dadonov for a one-timer in slot 27 seconds into the middle frame. Vincent Trocheck drew the secondary assist on the power-play goal that ended a long goalless drought for Dadonov.
The Flames quickly responded with Sean Monahan ripping a one-time past James Reimer after taking a nice backhand dish from Dougie Hamilton at the one-minute mark. Mark Giordano collected the secondary assist for hitting the activated Hamilton.
Calgary took the lead 9:38 later when Mikael Backlund sealed off the boards and Matthew Tkachuk went cross ice to Travis Hamonic. Reimer stopped Hamonic’s drive, but the puck went right to Tkachuk and he popped the juicy rebound into the net for his 12th of the season.
Johnny Gaudreau added another with 3:45 left in the period to put the Flames up by two. Johnny Hockey wound up and ripped the puck through both Mike Matheson and Reimer from the left circle after Backlund and Monahan played catch on the opposite side. Jamie McGinn took a double-roughing minor to put the Flames on a power play.
Dadonov pulled the Panther back within a goal when he picked up a loose pick in the slot and zipped it by Rittich 13:03 into the third. Aleksander Barkov didn’t get an assist, but he took the puck hard towards the net with a strong rush, forcing the Calgary defense to panic and turn the puck over.
Rittich, making only his fifth NHL start, came up with a huge late save on Trocheck and sealed the rebound with Aaron Ekblad on the door step to prevent the game from going to overtime.
Backlund added to his two assists with an empty-net goal with 46 seconds left in regulation time. Tkachuk picked up the lone assist on the clinching marker.
With their latest defeat, the Panthers head into their league mandated bye week losers of four of the their past five games (1-3-1). Florida needs to tighten up on the turnovers and find a way to finish more often when they come back from the break. The Panthers finished this tilt with 43 shots on goal, the twelfth time this season they’ve registered 40 or more. Their record in those games is 2-7-3.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Fire & Ash
- Evgenii Dadonov’s ended a 19-game dry spell with his first tally since November 10. Dadonov was the hungriest Panther, finishing with a game-high 8 shots on goal.
- The Flames have won six in a row and Sean Monahan has four goals and six assists in a six-game point streak. Coincidence?
- James Reimer finished with 25 saves in his 16th consecutive start since Roberto Luongo’s lower-body injury.
- Undrafted 25-year-old Czech David Rittich is now 4-1-1 with a 2.03 goals-against average in six games.
- Legend Jaromir Jagr missed his fifth straight game with a lower-body injury, unfortunate for fans at the BB&T Center, who would’ve liked one more glimpse of Jagr live.
- Matchsticks and Gasoline has the other side of the first of two between the Cats and the Sunshine State-sweeping Flames.