FROLIK REBOUNDS AGAINST BRUINS
Flames winger scores two in win after being benched
Bill Peters wanted to see a few things from his club’s start to Wednesday’s hockey game against the Boston Bruins.
In no particular order: “Energy.”
“Some O -zone time.” “Limit scoring chances against, hopefully none in the first five or six minutes.”
“Hopefully you get to the TV timeout and we’re up 1-0 or better,” the Calgary Flames head coach said Wednesday morning at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Sure enough, the Flames — facing the Boston Bruins, who entered the building with a 4-1-0 record along with eight first period goals — listened to their bench boss and were up 1-0 when the crew cleared the ice with 9:03 remaining in the first period.
And, en route to an eventual 5-2 victory, there was plenty more to like besides their start (which saw them up 3-0 after the first 20 minutes).
Michael Frolik almost singlehandedly got the job done.
Fresh off Saturday’s healthy scratch, the 30-year-old right winger rejoined the team’s second line with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk with something to prove.
Called out by Peters earlier in the week, Frolik hit the ice and created the first scoring chance on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, setting up Backlund on a two-onone. At 5:34, Frolik completed a pretty passing play between Tkachuk and Backlund for a goal, likely giving him some relief after the press box demotion.
There was lots to praise elsewhere, too, as Johnny Gaudreau scored his 100th NHL goal with 4:40 remaining and Juuso Valimaki netted his first NHL marker before the first period was over.
While Patrice Bergeron lifted the Bruins within two goals at the 2:40 mark of the second period, the Flames responded with some resilience — and another Frolik goal to take a 4-1 lead.
He wasn’t done. Shortly after potting his second of the game, Frolik and Elias Lindholm nearly both scored on a short-handed breakaway while the Flames killed off a Michael Stone interference penalty.
The Flames killed off a key fiveon-three to start the third period and didn’t allow a single Bruins shot: their penalty kill was solid all night. But their power play still needs work.
Although they were winning at the time of a third-period man advantage — Charlie McAvoy crushed Gaudreau after Rask stopped him on a breakaway — they couldn’t generate any offence.
The Flames finished the game 0-for-4 and are now 5-for-29 on the season, not good enough for a team that was supposed to have improved their power play in the off-season.
The Flames received solid goaltending from Mike Smith, who came up big in the first five minutes on a flurry of stops on Ryan Donato, David Backes and Brandon Carlo. The 36-year-old netminder who was last seen in a 5-3 loss at St. Louis last week was also huge during a second-period penalty kill right after Brad Marchand cut the Flames’ lead to two goals.
Speaking of Marchand, he and Bergeron made quick work of the Flames’ third defence pairing; Bergeron quickly fooled Valimaki and sent a pass to Marchand, who sneaked behind Stone to tap one past Smith.
Still, Smith made 23 saves for his third win of the season as the Flames outshot the B’s 29-25 and improved to 4-2-0.
AROUND THE GLASS
The Bruins had a goal waved off in the first period when Bergeron went offside, a smart challenge by Flames video coach Jamie Pringle, who made the call … LW Johnny Gaudreau’s 100th NHL goal in his 318th NHL game made him the second-fastest New Jersey-born player to hit 100 career goals … Gaudreau, after absorbing McCoy’s crushing blow into the boards, left the bench late in the third period and didn’t return. Sam Bennett moved into his spot on the top line.
Wearing a yellow jersey and sporting a face shield, Travis Hamonic was skating on Wednesday with the rest of the Flames for the first time since undergoing facial surgery.
“Real good,” Peters said of seeing Hamonic on the ice. “Good for our group and good for him. I think it’ll help him. He’ll get back as quick as he can. I don’t know what the timeline is for that yet but I know he’ll get back as soon as he can. I think this is right on schedule for getting on the ice but I don’t know what his return date will be.”
The 28-year-old defenceman was injured during a fight with Erik Gudbranson in the first game of the season and has missed the previous five including Wednesday’s clash against the Boston Bruins.
But to have him back on the ice was a morale booster.
“You get your team back together, right?” Peters said. “One of your teammates, one of the guys that’s in our leadership group and he’s a vocal guy. He means a lot to our room.”
D Juuso Valimaki scored his first NHL goal … C Dillon Dube sat out of the game and wasn’t on the ice for the morning skate. The 20-year-old rookie forward is dealing with a lower body injury after blocking a shot during last week’s 3-0 win at Nashville. “He had a maintenance day (Tuesday) and responded real well to that,” Peters said. “He had another one (Wednesday) and hopefully that should be it.” … There were no concerns about a lingering lower body injury for C Sean Monahan, who took Monday’s practice off to rest his foot which absorbed a shot Saturday. “He had a good maintenance day,” Peters said.
Flames winger Michael Frolik celebrates with Mark Giordano after scoring his second goal of the night during Wednesday’s 5-2 victory over the Bruins at the Scotiabank Saddledome.