The Calgary Flames went wild on the Calgary Blue Jackets and poor goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, who blocked a whopping 56 shots in a 6-0 loss Wednesday night at Nationwide Arena.
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The Alberta team thus directed 62 pucks towards the net of the Latvian goalkeeper. This is the most shots in a regular season game in more than 30 years in the National Hockey League (NHL).
In the modern era, you have to go back to March 21, 1991 to find a match like this. Quebec Nordiques goaltender Ron Tugnutt stood up in front of 70 of the Boston Bruins’ 73 shots. The match ended with a 3-3 tie.
The Flames shot 16 times in the first period, then 23 times in the next two engagements. Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals while Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane and Erik Gudbranson also participated in this offensive festival. Johnny Gaudreau stood out with three assists.
If Merzlikins’ performance is admirable under the circumstances, so is Jacob Markstrom’s. The Swede, however, had only 23 pucks to fend off to achieve his sixth shutout of the campaign, a league high.
A paying strategy for the Maple Leafs
Head coach Sheldon Keefe split the talent across three lines and the strategy worked. In front of the overwhelmed Anaheim Ducks, the Maple Leafs won 4-3 in a shootout on Wednesday in Toronto.
Relying on a full offensive lineup for the first time this season, Keefe decided to separate Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander to give opposing defenses headaches. Result: the Canadian formation dominated 44 to 20 in terms of shots on goal.
If the offensive guns were separated with numerical equality, they were nevertheless united on the first numerical superiority unit. Accompanied by John Tavares (one goal, one assist) and Morgan Reilly (one assist), Nylander (one goal, one assist), Matthews (two assists) and Marner (one goal, one assist) had a lot of fun on the power play, which struck three times.
It was Matthews who made the difference with the winner’s net in the shootout after nets from teammate Jason Spezza and rookie Trevor Zegras for the visitors
The brilliance of John Gibson, however, allowed the California team to stay in the game. The goaltender made 41 saves, including some very important ones in the third period when his team trailed by one goal. Vinni Lettieri then tied the game and forced an extra period.
Sam Steel and Jakob Silfverberg also deceived the vigilance of Jake Campbell, who was hardly reassuring. He has allowed three goals, bringing his tally to 21 in his most recent five outings. Figures that are far from the standards he had established at the start of the campaign.
The Ducks will be at the Bell Center to face the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
A Quebecer wins the Sharks
In Washington, Quebec defender Nicolas Meloche helped the San Jose Sharks win 4-1 over the Capitals by scoring his first career NHL goal.
In his 21st game on the Bettman circuit, Meloche scored the winning goal in the second period. The 24-year-old defender accepted a nice drop in Matt Nieto’s enclave to beat Ilya Samsonov with a wrist shot.
At the Capitals, it’s the dry breakdown. The team was shut out by the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday and it was Daniel Sprong who ended the five-period scoreless streak by shaking the ropes early in the third period.
Noah Gregor scored first in that game for the Sharks, while Jonathan Dahlen and Andrew Cogliano closed the books in the final four minutes.