The Calgary Flames have strung together back-to-back wins for the third time this season, after taking down the Winnipeg Jets in an extremely tight game on Tuesday night by a score of 3-2. The win for the Flames was their first in regulation over the Jets this season, and they now improve to 2-2-1 over them, with four more match-ups between the two clubs remaining.
For the second game in a row, Flames’ head coach Geoff Ward left his line combinations alone. Thankfully for the Flames, those decisions have paid off on both occasions. The Flames found scoring from three different lines against the Jets, and Byron Froese picked up his first goal with the team. This felt like the Flames’ most complete 60-minute effort of the season.
The shots were nearly even after the final buzzer, but the Flames had the slight edge, 29-27, and it was Elias Lindholm who slipped a late powerplay-marker past Connor Hellebuyck at 18:18 of the third period for the game-winner. Despite Lindholm scoring the winner, and Froese’s first as a Flame, Andrew Mangiapane continued to trend upward and was their biggest impact player.
Mangiapane Is Rising
Mangiapane isn’t the biggest forward, standing at 5-foot-10, but he is heating up at a big moment for the Flames. He resurrected his team with a massive game-tying goal at 1-1 in the second period last night, off of a great play that was all developed by Milan Lucic, who fed the puck to Mikael Backlund, who also made an impressive dish to Mangiapane. It was a classic example of “go to the net and good things will happen,” and Mangipane was in the right place at the right time to bury his third of the season, as he extended his point streak to three games.
All three goals for Mangiapane this season have been against the Jets. He now has six points in 12 games and looks to be enjoying his time on the new “MMA” line. The MMA line stands for “Milan, Mikael, and Andrew,” and the trio has looked excellent through their last two games, earning a combined nine points together.
Calgary has been desperate for this kind of secondary scoring, as it should ease off some of the pressure from the top line to always be the ones to get it done. Seeing Sam Bennett on the first line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan has also proven to be effective, as Bennett looks more comfortable with the team’s top forwards. (From ‘Flames’ Bennett looking for more in expanded role with Gaudreau, Monahan, ‘Calgary Sun, 02/09/21)
It’s been said before that Lucic possesses the true ability to make those around him better hockey players. He does so by using his large physical presence, which creates space for his linemates and has wicked knowledge for the game. He has also been better with the puck to start the 2020-21 campaign, as he has six points in 12 games, too. Lucic, Backlund, and Mangiapane have been a healthy addition to the Flames’ dynamic as a group, and with Mangiapane scoring his third goal in five games, he’s heating up at the right time. Calgary has leaped over Vancouver in the standings, and they also have games in hand on every team in their division, besides the Jets and Habs. (Those three tied at 12 games played)
Lots to Look Forward to
The Flames are slowly transitioning into the team they want to be, as their systems and structure have become more transparent in their last few meetings. It seems like the club has had no passengers in their lineup for the last few games, either, and they’ll really need that same uptempo, all-in effort from all dressed skaters when they take on the Canucks in Vancouver on Thursday. The tilt between the two comes at a critical time for the Flames, as the Canucks have lost five-straight games. That’s something the Flames need to take advantage of, as the Canucks will likely be seeking revenge in the worst possible way.
The two rivals will face each other four times in a row, which should get the Flames jumping for excitement about the opportunity to potentially clear some room in the standings between themselves and the Canucks, who now sit one point behind Calgary. Look for Mangiapane to light a spark for his team on Thursday, as coach Ward will likely be rolling with the same lines, as Calgary looks to go for win number three in a row.