Flames Capture Game One Over Jets Thanks to Strong Special Teams

Logan Lockhart
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Tobias Rieder’s shorthanded breakaway goal was the difference Saturday night as the Flames defeated the Jets 4-1 to capture game one of the best-of-five qualifier series.


The game-winning goal was Rieder’s first career playoff marker, as he beat Jets starter Connor Hellebuyck to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.


Three of Calgary’s four goals on Saturday were due to special teams--two on the power play and one shorthanded.


Calgary failed to convert on their first two power opportunities but weren't denied a third time, when Johnny Gaudreau beat Hellebuyck at 7:06 of the second period to tie the game at one. 


Mikael Backlund added another power play goal with under two minutes remaining in the second frame to give the Flames a 3-1 advantage. 


The game one victory was solidified for the Flames when Andrew Mangiapane notched his team’s fourth goal of the night by-way of the empty net with less than two minutes to play in regulation.


Andrew Copp opened the scoring at 8:51 of the opening frame after a backhand pass from Adam Lowry behind the Flames net to give Winnipeg the 1-0 lead. 


Despite leading by one after the first period, the Jets were anything but happy after seeing their second-leading scorer leave the game due to injury.


After colliding into the boards with the help of a Matthew Tkachuk shove, Mark Scheifele left the game at the 14-minute mark of the first period. The Jets number-one centre needed assistance off the ice and did not return.


Tkachuk and Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler dropped the gloves only three minutes after the Scheifele incident. 


Wheeler’s fight with the Flames agitator ignited the Jets--sustained pressure, long shifts of cycle time and the eventual first goal of the game--but that was all the real pressure the Jets applied on their Western Canadian rivals for the entirety of the game.


Winnipeg finished the game with only 18 shots on Calgary starter Cam Talbot.


Calgary didn’t record a shot on Hellebuyck until the 13-minute mark of the first when Milan Lucic was stopped on a breakaway opportunity.


It was one of nine shots taken by the Flames all period as they left the first period trailing by one. A somewhat lifeless start from Calgary was quickly forgotten about in the second period when Winnipeg’s inability to limit the opposition on special teams became the difference. 


The Jets and Flames only met once during the 2019-2020 regular season in the Heritage Classic in Regina on October 26. 


Winnipeg won that meeting 2-1 in overtime, and on Saturday night, a tightly contested affair was seen again between the eighth and ninth seeds respectively in the Western Conference. 


On the first day of the return of the NHL, intensity and physicality was the theme throughout. The Jets and Flames wrapped up the first day of the qualifiers by continuing that trend.


A total of 58 penalties were called combined in the five qualifier games Saturday, 12 in the Calgary-Winnipeg game alone. Perhaps it’s sloppiness after such a long hiatus from action, or just simply a lack of discipline, but it appears there will be plenty of opportunities to capitalize on the power play throughout the qualifiers. 


Certainly for the Jets, their inability to score with the man advantage contributed to the team’s loss, as they failed to record a power play goal in seven chances.


Game two is set for Monday afternoon in the hub city of Edmonton, as the Flames will look to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.