December 16 2010 10:40PM
It was a legitimately dominant performance for the Calgary Flames in a 5-2 Thursday night victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dion Phaneuf was a complete non issue in his return to Calgary, and the Flames made sure they skated circles around an inferior hockey club from start to finish.
It was actually Toronto opening the scoring and igniting the sizeable contingent of blue and white fans at 6:14 of the first period; after Jay Bouwmeester was thwarted on a great scoring chance at the other end, Nikolai Kulemin would finish off a Leafs rush to put the visitors up by one. But it was answered in very short order by Mikael Backlund who would pot his fourth of the season at 7:11, and this was all knotted up after twenty. Scoring chances were slightly in favor of the Flames, and they were the better team overall heading into the second period and were victimized on an incredible Jean Sebastien Giguere save; Alex Tanguay is still wondering.
The second period went back and forth for quite a while before the Flames busted this hockey game wide open; but it was Calgary controlling the play and spending much more time in the offensive zone. And then Alex Tanguay scored his ninth of the season on a gorgeous pass from Matt Stajan, and bam, the game is busted wide open. Tanguay's goal came at 15:17; 33 seconds later, it was Olli Jokinen scoring his fifth on the powerplay, firing a shot from the left boards past Giguere. And then at 16:14, it was a laser beam of a shot from Rene Bourque at the right circle, and it went from 1-1 to 4-1 in a span of 57 seconds. The Flames were dominant overall though, even though the goals came in a short span...Kent had chances 11-4 for Calgary and 9-3 at even strength.
The third period really was a formality; Hagman would add a powerplay marker at 2:30 on a nice pass from Jokinen, and the Leafs would snap the run of Flames goals at 8:45 thanks to Mikhail Grabovski. Jarome Iginla would be stopped on a penalty shot in the final 90 seconds or so, and this game would finish 5-2 on the home side.
One Good Reason...
...why the Flames won? Because they came out to play and made sure they were the better team. Honestly, the Maple Leafs are not a good hockey team, and Calgary made sure they drove that home, and they deserve full marks for it. Jarome Iginla's line was straight up dominant against Toronto's top unit, and they were matched up for a good chunk of the opening 40. Only David Moss finished under water in the chance count, and at 0-1 at that in 11:26 of ice time. Calgary was much better and won the hockey game; simple.
Gotta give it to Matt Stajan, who returned to action against his former team after sitting out two games as a healthy scratch. Stajan had a very strong game right from the very start, generating chances with a number of very strong passes from in tight; he also was unable to convert on a wide open chance in front of the Leafs net in the second period. Stajan was pretty strong in this game, and finished 80% in the faceoff circle.
Sum It Up
Hey, it's consecutive wins for the team, and that's really all that matters at this point. They were the better team and deserved the two points, and they didn't let some outstanding goaltending from Giguere derail their night. The Flames kept playing, they kept pushing, and they made the return of Phaneuf an absolute non issue. Neuf Dog really did nothing positive, and was chasing Iginla when the late penalty shot was called. Hey, the team has won two straight and they go against a Minnesota Wild team that isn't very strong on Saturday; so lets see if they can make it three straight.
One note: Curtis Glencross ended up sitting as the healthy scratch in this game, and the team didn't really miss him. We'll see if he's back in on Saturday.