January 11 2011 09:13PM
That certainly wasn't the hockey game I thought we were going to see Tuesday night in Raleigh, and at one point it looked like it was going to be an easy finish to the hockey game for the home side. Three unanswered goals from the Calgary Flames forced overtime before a Jeff Skinner shootout goal salvaged the two points for Carolina Hurricanes in a 6-5 win.
The Flames opened the scoring at 4:13 of the first period as the top line made things happen on an odd man rush; Jay Bouwmeester would roof the puck from the high slot on a nice drop pass from Jarome Iginla. Bo's fourth of the season was his first in 19 games and got the Flames out to a good start. The Canes would cancel things off at 11:46 when a Chad LaRose shot was tipped by Tuomu Ruutu; his 11th tied things at one. But, less than two minutes later, it was the Flames top line connecting again off a nice give-and-go with Iginla and Alex Tanguay. After Iginla's initial shot was stopped by Cam Ward, the captain would follow up with his 18th of the season and the Flames had their one goal lead restored. But once again, the Canes would fight back, and on a nice chip and chase play, Jussi Jokinen would fire home his seventh of the season at 16:29; the first period ended 2-2.
The second period was Calgary's worst of the game, but it wasn't three goals against bad...yet...three goals against. Early on, Erik Cole would get a stick on a Jokinen centering pass to give the Canes their first lead before Eric Staal would score a groaner at 5:37. From outside the scoring area chasing a puck, Staal would put a puck towards the net that would somehow elude Miikka Kiprusoff and give the Canes a two goal lead. That would be the end of Kiprusoff's night, as Henrik Karlsson would come in in relief; he'd let in one more goal before the second let up, as Jussi Jokinen tipped home his second of the game at 14:50 to stake Carolina to what seemed like an insurmountable 5-2 lead. Late in the frame, the Flames would claw a little closer, with Matt Stajan forcing a Tuomu Ruutu turnover; Niklas Hagman would pounce on the loose puck and absolutely wire it past Ward. Hagman's ninth of the season had Calgary down 5-3 after 40.
From the way this game went, you just had this feeling Calgary would get back into this game, or at least I did. The Flames got within one early on on a Curtis Glencross bullet at 1:31 as he continued his very strong play. Then at 7:39 Rene Bourque slammed home his 14th off some nice down low work from Brendan Morrison and all of a sudden, we had a tie game. And then both teams took a bit of a deep breath. No more scoring in regulation and off to overtime we went tied 5-5.
The Canes had all the shots in the five minute overtime, including some powerplay time with a Rene Bourque slashing call late in the frame. The highlight came in the dying seconds when Henrik Karlsson made an awkward, yet pretty spectacular, looking save to keep things tied and force a shootout. Jeff Skinner scored the only goal for Carolina while Alex Tanguay, Ales Kotalik and Niklas Hagman were unsuccessful for the Flames. An absolute rodeo of a hockey game finished 6-5 in favor of the home side.
One Good Reason...
...why the Flames lost? A bad second period, some suspect goaltending, and a shootout. I know that's more than one reason, but that was the story of the game. The Flames were the better team by and large here, especially in the first and third periods, but they got loose in the second, and Kiprusoff didn't bail them out. It's a little troubling seeing your number one goaltender play two poor hockey games, and I can't remember a span like this for him. I think he'll battle his way out of it, but it's needed to be better the last three games. And once again, when you get into a shootout, it's a coin flip...and I'm scratching my head at the shootout choices myself.
Photo: Jimmy Jeong/Getty Images
I loved him for a second straight game, and I think this is the first back-to-back Red Warrior of the season...Curtis Glencross. I thought he was a beast once again, and he finished in the plus in the scoring chances while adding some really strong penalty kill time. It's good to see Glencross back, because he was absolutely invisible for a long time before his last two. When he's on, he's on...and he can really help this team.
Sum It Up
Glass half empty? It's a two game point streak for the Flames and they were able to come back and tie this game when they were down 5-2. Players like Glencross, Hagman and Stajan seem to actually be doing positive things on the ice. And I buy all of that. Glass half empty? The Flames have lost four straight games, they've gotten suspect goaltending, and they haven't been able to close out two points in two straight games they probably should have. I can see both sides, I really can. But they need wins right now, and they're not getting them.