The Calgary Flames have a long way to go to really push the Anaheim Ducks in this second-round series, but getting more from Jiri Hudler wouldn’t hurt.
He was banged up in Game 1, which might be part of the reason that the Flames’ top regular season scorer has been held off the board through the start of this series. Hudler finally found the net in Game 5, giving Calgary a coveted 1-0 lead.
He did so with authority, too:
Update: The Ducks managed to tie it 1-1 with a Ryan Kesler goal, but the lead didn’t last very long, as Johnny Gaudreau regained Calgary’s lead with a 2-1 tally (which earned Hudler a helper):
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…
Rangers at Capitals, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The Rangers will once again look to avoid elimination tonight as their series with the Washington Capitals shifts to the Verizon Center for Game 6. The series has been a showcase of outstanding goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby have stopped a combined 296 of 311 shots through five games for a .952 save percentage. New York has now played in an NHL-record 12 straight one-goal playoff games. The Caps have been eliminated by the Rangers in seven games in each of their last two playoff appearances. Washington is 7-2 against New York at home in the playoffs since 2012.
Flames at Ducks, 10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 the Anaheim Ducks have not made it past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Ducks have a chance to close out their second round series with the Calgary Flames in Game 5 tonight at the Honda Center. The Flames are looking to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2004 when they came one win shy of capturing the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. Calgary will be in tough tonight – the Flames have lost 21 straight at the Honda Center since a win on April 25, 2006. The Ducks won Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim by a combined 9-1 margin. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom have the call of Game 5.
The Montreal Canadiens were able to build off of an early lead in Game 4 en route to a 6-2 victory. They have a chance to secure a similar outcome tonight.
Devante Smith-Pelly managed to beat Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop midway through the first period to get Montreal on the board first. There was some initial confusion because the Lightning players on the ice thought the puck hit the post and went back out, but the replies made it clear that it was a goal.
You can see that play below:
It was Smith-Pelly’s first marker of the 2015 playoffs. He was acquired from Anaheim in exchange for Jiri Sekac on Feb. 24.
This is just the fourth time in 11 games that Montreal has scored first in the 2015 postseason. The Canadiens are 2-1 in that scenario while Tampa Bay is 2-4 when surrendering the opening goal.
All season long, the Calgary Flames have defied the doubters. However, their surprising run could be reaching its end, now trailing the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 in this second round series.
On Friday, mistakes and an undisciplined penalty were the Flames’ undoing in a loss to the Ducks. Matt Beleskey scored the winner on a power play early in the third period of Game 4.
The Ducks can clinch a spot in the Western Conference final with a win on Sunday in Game 5.
Including the Stanley Cup Playoffs and regular season, the Ducks have won 21 straight games at Honda Center against the Flames dating to Game 3 of their first-round playoff series in 2006.
“It’s playoffs. You never know what’s going to happen,” Beleskey said. “We love going home. We love playing in front of our home fans, but I don’t think that whole streak thing matters at this point. It’s Game 5 of the playoffs. We need a big effort.”
Throughout the regular season, and even into these playoffs, the Flames provided numerous thrilling comebacks, and they will try to rely on that experience in this situation.
“We’ve just gotta believe,” said Flames forward Mikael Backlund, as per the Calgary Sun. “We’ve won three games in a row before, so we can do it again.
“The whole season, we’ve been coming back from some really tough mountains and we always seem to find a way to climb up on the top. This group never stops, just battles every day. Our work ethic and our character in this room is going to take us through these next couple of games.”
In what was a physical, chippy game on Friday, an undisciplined penalty proved costly for the Calgary Flames, who are now facing elimination.
At the end of the second period, Flames forward Joe Colborne got his stick up on Francois Beauchemin while trying to finish his check, resulting in a four-minute power play for the Ducks. And the Anaheim power play made Colborne and the Flames pay.
Just 1:11 into the third period, Matt Beleskey scored on that power play to give the Ducks the lead. That goal stood as the winner. Anaheim went on to win by a final score of 4-2, taking a 3-1 series lead.
“Frustrating,” Colborne told Sportsnet.ca. “Just trying to (walk) that line of being physical. I’m not going to comment on whether I liked (the call) or not, but that’s on me. I definitely let the boys down there.”
The Flames, who were also unsuccessful on a five-on-three power play in the third period when they were trailing by a goal, entered this series as the underdog. They’ll now need a massive comeback — they made a habit of doing that in third periods during the regular season — if they are to have any chance of getting back into this.
After falling behind a goal less than four minutes into the game, the Flames wasted no time battling back. The first six minutes featured three goals, with Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland scoring 1:07 apart to give Calgary the lead.
The second period featured numerous turning points.
Frederik Andersen made a sprawling glove save on Johnny Gaudreau to keep it a one-goal game. It was a huge stop. Later in the period, Gaudreau was guilty of a turnover right in front of his own net, directly leading to Andrew Cogliano’s tying goal.
Game 5 goes Sunday in Anaheim.