March 20, 2023

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Vegas win.

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The Calgary Flames celebrated a long-awaited franchise on the first Thursday with a 7-2 thrashing of the Golden Knights, their first triumph in nine all-time trips to the T-Mobile Arena.

They didn’t just turn their fortunes into something that wasn’t a destination before. Amidst the glitz and glamor of The Strip, they also gave a glimmer of hope that their playoff fate was yet to be decided. They are now just three points away from the final wildcard slot in the Western Conference.

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“I think we stopped short of trying to do it,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter told reporters in Vegas. “We’ve played so many one-goal games this year that you could just walk away and be like, ‘Oh shit, that’s not going to work.’ This has never happened before in our club.”

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On Thursday, they got a little lucky. They cashed in with brass knuckles and a pot shot from under the goal line, and also benefited from a helpful rebound from one of the men in the striped uniforms.

They also had some luck on the scoreboard out of town, with the Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators losing on the first team.

“I strongly believe that you will earn your luck,” emphasized Flames forward Blake Coleman, who secured the decisive score in the second period – the eventual winner of the game – and added a late empty net. “I agree that rejections may not have been good for us (this season), but there were times when we definitely didn’t get rejected. And I thought we made it tonight.

There are no arguments here.

Tyler Toffoli was in the lead with two goals and a couple of assists, while team-mate Elias Lindholm posted a plus-5 rating. Mackenzie Vigar, Mikael Backlund and Dillon Dube scored single points, while a total of 11 Flames scored at least a point.

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“It shows that we can play anyone,” Toffoli said in a post-match interview with Sportsnet. “Obviously we are fighting for our lives and we need to win every game. I think we should be proud of it.”

Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom blocks a shot from Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Braden McNabb at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday, March 16, 2023.
Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom blocks a shot from Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Braden McNabb at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday, March 16, 2023. Photo by Ethan Miller /Getty Images

Wigar landed the only punch in Thursday’s opening stanza, tricking Jonathan Quick with his fist from behind the blue line. He later described the shot as “my temptation”.

Toffoli scored in the early stages of the second hit, throwing a forehand past his old pal Quick, but the hosts erased that damage on Zach Whitecloud and Reilly Smith’s markers. In the Calgary crease, Jacob Markstrom was furious after that one-shot from a wide-open Smith, claiming there should have been a icing whistle to enter the zone — and he had the right idea.

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To their credit, The Flames didn’t go down after that missed call. The score was tied for the full 81 seconds before Coleman responded with a graceful redirect.

This was followed by an accident on the power play in the third period. Backlund tried to pass the ball from under the goal line, but the puck bounced off Alex Pietrangelo’s stick, bounced off Quick’s mask and hit the net.

The Calgarians also broke at the next mark. Lindholm kicked the puck out of his zone and it looked like it would bounce the entire length of the ice for a stoppage, except she slapped linesman Matt McPherson in the neutral zone, which turned out to be a breakout for Andrew Mangiapain. Although he was turned down, Toffoli removed the leftovers on the second evening.

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From there, the floodgates opened. After ColemanWith an empty net, Dube converted a touchdown.

The Flames are now 1-7-1 at the Golden Knights home field.

“Being a part of all the losses here, it’s very, very nice to finally win here, break this record or spell or whatever you want to call it,” Backlund told reporters at the T-Mobile Arena. “Obviously it’s nice to see Winnipeg losing and getting closer to a playoff spot. We understand that we still need to be a lot more consistent and play a lot better every night, but today’s game was important for us and was a step forward.”

Calgary Flames defenseman Troy Stecher tests Vegas Golden Knights forward Pavel Dorofeev without a puck at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday, March 16, 2023.
Calgary Flames defenseman Troy Stecher tests Vegas Golden Knights forward Pavel Dorofeev without a puck at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday, March 16, 2023. Photo by Stephen R. Sylvania. /USA TODAY Sports


Race update for the final wildcard – the Jets scored 79 points in 69 games and the Flames scored 76 in the same number of games. Both have 13 gigs left. The Predators scored 75 points with three games in hand… The Flames scored four goals in Thursday’s last frame. The Golden Knights recorded five shots. As Coleman put it, “Obviously we had problems with the third periods, with the lineup and from start to finish, I think we did a great job today to make sure we don’t take the gas pedal off.” … We all know the old adage – what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Some in C of Red initially hoped that Sutter would also leave this roster for Sin City, though this seems unlikely after the decisive win. Sutter mixed up all four hitting trios and, much to the chagrin of some fans, scratched rookies Walker Dur and Jacob Pelletier. Combo in a new look? Mangiapain rode with Lindholm and Toffoli in the top group, while Jonathan Huberdo joined the always reliable duo of Backlund and Coleman. Adam Ruzicka, who sat 11 in a row as a healthy scratch, found himself between Dube and Nick Ritchie, while All-Star center Nazem Kadri worked with the usual fourth players Trevor Lewis and Milan Lucic. “Just trying to get some strength tonight with the lineup,” Sutter explained in his post-match bout. “We added Rosie and Big Ritch to get some energy. And then we have guys who are struggling to score, so just try to move them a little bit and find a place for them.

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Toffoli scored up to 60 points for the season, a new career best. His previous high was 58 in 2015-16. “I just want to keep going, make the playoffs and make some noise,” he said… Wait, let’s hear more about Vigar’s secret weapon. “My dip-a-ru? I’ve been working on this shot for a long time,” he told reporters at the T-Mobile Arena. “I’m sure it was probably 45 mph, but it’s nice that it happened.” … During a break in the second period, Troy Stecher turned Paul Kotter’s jersey into a deep V-neck… The Flames will spend the weekend at home against the Dallas Stars at the Saddledome on Saturday (8:00 pm PT, Sportsnet/Sportsnet 960 The Fan). before hitting the road again for two SoCal games in Los Angeles on Monday and Anaheim the following night…Golden Knights’ stylish gesture – in support of Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow, Thursday’s game proceeds Draw 51/49 was intended to support the fight against ALS.


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