The Calgary Flames were back at home last night after a successful 2-1-0 trip through the Central Division, and they kept it rolling against the red hot Boston Bruins.
The Bruins were unbeaten through four, after a season opening thumping at the hands of the Washington Capitals. The biggest challenge for the Flames was going to be slowing down their top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The trio combined for 30 points through their first five games of the year, making them one of the most dangerous units in the league.
Coach Bill Peters left the task of shutting down Bergeron’s line to a reunited “3M Line.” Michael Frolik rejoined Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk on the Flames’ second unit after being left out of the lineup on Saturday night in Denver. It was the first time the veteran had been a healthy scratch in over a decade, and apparently Peters’ message was well received because the Czech winger opened the scoring at 5:34. Frolik’s first of the year came on a tic-tac-toe feed from Backlund and Tkachuk, beating Tuukka Rask to give the Flames an early lead.
Calgary scored two more before the end of the period, with a couple of milestones for two of the boys in red. Johnny Gaudreau had his 100th career goal to put the Flames up 2-0 at 15:20, and Juuso Valimaki scored his first NHL goal less than a minute later.
To start the second period the Bruins looked to be mounting a comeback, as Patrice Bergeron netted Boston’s first of the game. But the Flames responded with Michael Frolik’s second of the night, on a feed from 3M line-mate Backlund. Shortly after that Frolik was sprung on a shorthanded breakaway, but he put his backhand shot just past the post to miss out on the hat-trick. The Bruins managed to pull within two before the end of 40 minutes, with Brad Marchand linking up with line-mates Bergeron and Pastrnak for his second of the year.
The third period lacked the scoring of the first two, but it did feature a scary moment for Flames fans as Johnny Gaudreau was the victim of a late hit by Charlie McAvoy. After Gaudreau was stoned by Rask on a breakaway, McAvoy followed through with a hit that drew a crowd and had Flames fans chanting a chorus of boos. Johnny Hockey returned to the ice for the ensuing power play, but was noticeably absent from the bench for the final minutes of the game.
Matthew Tkachuk finished the contest off with an empty netter, for his second point of the night.
In his post-game presser, Coach Bill Peters said he knew very little about Gaudreau’s status, but did say that he was pulled due to league concussion spotters. “You’ve got to protect the star players to a certain degree,” said Peters, “people come to an NHL game and want to see the marquee names perform. Hopefully it’s minor.”
The Flames are back in action on Friday night, as the Nashville Predators visit the Saddledome. The two teams met last week in Tennessee, where the Flames shut out the Preds, 3-0.
— Danica Ferris