Michael Frolik overtime hero as Calgary Flames top Arizona Coyotes
Stopped twice on dangerous chances earlier, Michael Frolik wasn’t about to let Mike Smith thwart him a third time.
Frolik’s team-leading sixth goal 49 seconds into overtime on Wednesday night gave the Calgary Flames a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
The veteran stole the puck from Brad Richardson in the neutral zone, skated in all alone at top speed and fired a shot inside the post.
“I saw a little bit more space outside to maybe go to the backhand, but last second I saw a guy coming across so I just tried to shoot it glove side and it went in,” said Frolik.
After a scoreless first period, Frolik had a great chance in the opening minute of the second but Smith jabbed out a pad to deny him from in-close. Five minutes later, Smith throw up his glove and stabbed his snapshot from 20 feet out.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating when you have chances like that and it doesn’t go in, but I just try not to think about it and just keep going and try to do a little better on the next shot,” said Frolik.
Calgary entered the third down 1-0 but tied it at 6:40. From a bad angle, rookie Matthew Tkachuk ripped a shot that went off Smith’s helmet and under the crossbar for his fourth goal.
“Any time a goal like that goes in is deflating for the whole team. That’s on me,” said Smith. “It could have been a 1-0 game and we’re feeling a lot different coming into the locker-room tonight.”
Flames coach Glen Gulutzan continues to be impressed by the 18-year-old Tkachuk.
“It was one heck of a shot,” said the Flames coach. “There wasn’t any room there. He made a big play. He’d been working all night, like he usually does. I’m happy for him.”
Calgary (7-10-1) snapped a three-game home losing skid.
Tobias Rieder scored for Arizona (5-9-1), which wraps up a short two-game trip in Vancouver on Thursday.
It was the first game in what will be an extended stretch for Calgary without leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau, who underwent finger surgery earlier Wednesday after getting injured Tuesday night in Minnesota.
“Every guy recognizes that we lost a really good player and now collectively, we have to play a certain way to get ourselves in a position to get points in this league,” said Gulutzan. “It’s certainly hurt us as a hockey club but we look at it as something we can rally around and try to find a true identity here.”
Sam Bennett took his spot on the top line with Sean Monahan and Troy Brouwer.
“It’s a big loss for us — Johnny, but it’s an opportunity for the guys to step up and we have to do it,” said Frolik.
Arizona opened the scoring with 18 seconds left in the second when Rieder pounced on a Justin Martinook rebound and buried it behind Chad Johnson. But the Flames were the better team in the third and the Coyotes could not hang on.
“We’re turning the puck over too much and bringing trouble on ourselves, not generating very much and turnovers are making us play too much in our own end,” said Arizona coach Dave Tippett.
In his return from missing 12 games with a knee injury, Smith had some excellent saves among his 22 stops. His record falls to 1-0-1.
After not playing for nine days, Johnson got the start again, 24 hours after a 27-shot shutout in Minnesota. He made 20 stops to improve to 4-2-1.
Notes: Linden Vey was inserted into the forward spot opened up by Gaudreau… Arizona’s Martin Hanzal (lower body) returned after missing six games…. Defencemen Luke Schenn and Kevin Connauton returned to the Coyotes line-up with Connor Murphy and rookie Jakob Chychrun taking a seat.