While it was far from being a complete 60-minute team effort in Motown, it only seemed appropriate for the Calgary Flames to wrap up the first half of their 2018-19 regular season schedule with a come-from-behind triumph against the struggling Detroit Red Wings.
After a lethargic start in which the Flames fell behind 2-0 after the opening 20 minutes, they rallied yet again to secure a 5-3 victory. The comeback was sparked by a brilliant four-point performance from Johnny Gaudreau as they improved their Pacific Division-leading ledger to an impressive 25-12-4.
While the team does have areas to address heading into the second half of the season, Calgary does appear to be a legitimate Western Conference powerhouse. Having 54 points at the midpoint of the season is probably beyond what even the most die-hard Flames fan could’ve envisioned.
In honor of the Flames’ uncanny ability to never be out of a game because of their combination of intestinal fortitude and third-period heroics, we examine their top-six comebacks at the halfway mark.
Flames Exact Revenge on Canucks (Oct. 6, 2018)
The Flames delighted the Saddledome faithful in their home opener with an impressive third-period rally against the visiting Vancouver Canucks. Calgary’s resolve was tested as they found themselves playing catch-up on multiple occasions and trailed 4-3 after two periods as the result of a late Canucks goal from Bo Horvat.
However, the Flames responded from that adversity in a positive fashion with a four-goal outburst in the final frame that produced the 7-4 win. Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm netted third period markers to allow Calgary to pull ahead and the victory was salted away by empty netters from Austin Czarnik and Michael Frolik.
While the Flames have rallied from bigger deficits this season, the win was a sign of things to come with the resilience and offensive firepower that has been on display under new head coach Bill Peters. It was a highly-satisfying result against a Canucks squad that had defeated the Flames 5-2 three days prior on the opening night of the 2018-19 season.
Constant Pressure Wears Down Blackhawks (Nov. 3, 2018)
The Flames once again showcased their ability to score in bunches as they completed a dramatic comeback against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks by netting a trio of markers in the final frame. Calgary was trailing the contest 3-1 late in the second period when they picked up some momentum thanks to a goal by Matthew Tkachuk.
As has been their calling card this season, the Flames blew away their opposition in the final stanza. Calgary had the Blackhawks on their heels for the bulk of the period and were finally rewarded when Sean Monahan put the equalizer past besieged Chicago netminder Corey Crawford. Michael Frolik quickly followed with the game-winning goal and Mikael Backlund added an empty-netter in the 5-3 victory.
The contest, in which the Flames outshot the Blackhawks 41-15, including a whopping 20-4 in the third period, provided a prime example as to how Calgary wouldn’t be denied until they had gotten the desired result.
Flames Thrive Amidst Columbus Chaos (Dec. 4, 2018)
It appeared as though the Flames were in for a rough night against the Columbus Blue Jackets as they trailed 3-1 after the opening 20 minutes. The wild contest featured a rare rough outing for Calgary goaltender David Rittich who was given the hook after the first period.
Things went from bad to worse early in the middle stanza for the Flames when Cam Atkinson scored his second of three goals on the night to give the home side a 4-1 advantage. Just when you thought the rout was on, the resilient Flames mounted an offensive onslaught by registering five straight goals against Sergei Bobrovsky.
Sean Monahan’s marker to trim the deficit to 4-2 was the catalyst for an outburst that featured follow-up goals from Elias Lindholm and Tkachuk. Not to be outdone, the Flames’ blue line also contributed to the cause in a significant manner with both Noah Hanifin and T.J. Brodie hitting the scoresheet.
The wacky affair was actually still up for grabs heading into the third until the Flames pulled away with another trio of goals to earn the 9-6 win. The high-scoring, entertaining affair was yet another contest where the Flames’ top trio of Gaudreau, Monahan and Lindholm stole the show with a combined 10 points between them.
Victorious in Fiery Battle of Alberta (Nov. 17, 2018)
This highly-anticipated matchup ended up being a true throwback to the types of Battles of Alberta that fans of both the Flames and Edmonton Oilers used to witness in their respective glory days. The intensity was fierce from the start in a contest that featured plenty of bad blood and high skill levels.
The Flames fell behind 2-0 early in the second period after a goal from Connor McDavid and it appeared as though it would be an unproductive night for the home team against their bitter arch-rivals. However, Derek Ryan provided a much-needed shot in the arm for the Flames with his tally late in the middle frame.
The Flames‘ third period magic was highlighted by three unanswered markers including a pair from the outstanding newcomer Lindholm, who had the game-winning marker. Tkachuk was involved in most of the on-ice animosity as he was a major thorn in Edmonton’s side throughout the game. The hard-fought 4-2 Flames victory delighted the sellout crowd at the Saddledome and the ferocity between the two sides was clear proof that the Battle of Alberta was back in a major way.
Bury Colorado with Avalanche of Goals (Nov. 1, 2018)
The Flames have had a couple of dramatic come-from-behind wins over the Colorado Avalanche this season, but the most spectacular was their third-period performance against the Avalanche to erase a 4-1 deficit on home ice. The Flames’ dangerous attack was on full display during a dizzying five-goal frenzy that was spawned by an Lindholm goal in the first minute of the period. Monahan, Frolik, James Neal and Mark Giordano also joined in the fun as the Flames’ offence bailed out Mike Smith, who struggled between the pipes.
The turning point was a physical one as Flames forward Sam Bennett went after Ian Cole to engage in a spirited scrap after the Colorado defenseman had doled out a big hit on Mark Jankowski late in the second period. There’s no doubt that the confrontation provided a spark for the Flames to rally around during the second intermission as they came out like gangbusters in the third to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Flames Serve up a Remarkable Philly Special (Dec. 12, 2018)
In truly the most improbable of their many rallies this season, the overtime victory against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers took matters to a completely different level. Starting goalie Mike Smith gave way to Rittich after surrendering four second-period goals and it appeared as though all was lost as the Flames trailed 5-3 in the third after being victimized by a deflating shorthanded goal from Sean Couturier. However, while all appeared grim, there would be utter insanity produced in the dying moments of regulation.
The comeback was cued by an unlikely offensive source as defenceman Rasmus Andersson netted his first-ever NHL goal with just over a minute left while the Flames had pulled Rittich in favor of a sixth attacker.
The seemingly impossible became a joyful reality when Monahan tied the contest with seven seconds left in regulation. That made it an incredible two goals for the Flames while they had their goalie pulled. Rittich came up big in overtime by making a critical save off the Flyers’ Ivan Provorov, setting the stage for Gaudreau to send the crowd into an absolute frenzy with his game-winner at the 35-second mark.
Flames Exceeding All Expectations so Far in 2018-19
This season’s edition of the Flames is a far cry from the group that finished near the bottom of the league in scoring in 2017-18 and ultimately produced a highly frustrating and disappointing non-playoff campaign. This current group under Peters is a confident bunch that has both the resolve and the talent to respond to any adverse situation.
The Flames have emerged not only as the current leaders of the Pacific Division, but as one of the most exciting teams in the NHL. While the formula of needing to rely on strong third periods after falling behind isn’t the preferred strategy, it’s clear that the 2018-19 Flames have been able to master that craft in spectacular and thrilling fashion thus far.
Have loved sports since an early age as both a fan and a participant and eventually was fortunate enough to get into the Sports Radio business. The highlight of my career was being part of Calgary Flames broadcasts at Sportsnet 960 The Fan during their run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. I was an on-air personality from 2001 to 2012 at the station and had the pleasure of covering many a game at the Saddledome over that period. In the last few years I’ve transitioned to sports writing and have been an NHL contributor for RantSports.com and most recently a UFC writer for Today’sKnockout.com.