January 15 2011 08:31PM
Hey, it wasn't exactly the script the Calgary Flames would have wanted to play out Saturday night in Toronto, but after a late Leafs goal sent things to extra time, the Flames were able to use three consecutive shootout goals to reclaim two points in a 2-1 win. It extends Calgary's point streak to four games and gets them back to the magical .500 mark.
Um, to be honest, in the opening 40 minutes, not a whole lot happened. The first period saw Calgary get some scoring opportunities but were unable to convert on them, and even with outshooting the Leafs 11-6, this game was scoreless heading into the second period. Calgary did run the first period though, as they had possession and were able to generate some good things down low.
Toronto was able to reel things in a little bit and actually outchanced the Flames by Kent's count, although it was a pretty non-descript second period. As Toronto settled things down, the majority of the period saw both teams playing things pretty close to the vest, which I guess you can expect. So, no scoring in the second, and after two periods of play the game remained scoreless.
Calgary would open the scoring well past the midway mark of the third period, and it was the former Leaf Matt Stajan getting them on the board. Niklas Hagman did a nice job of moving the puck to the front of the net from the right corner, and after a goal mouth scramble, Stajan would bang home the garbage for his third or the season and first in 12 games. That would put the full court press on for Toronto, and a few Miikka Kiprusoff saves later, we were into the waning minutes of the game. A lazy Ales Kotalik hooking penalty on a Phil Kessel chance would put Toronto on a late powerplay, and with just 13 seconds remaining, they'd cash in. Mikhail Grabovski fired home a rebound from the right side of the crease for his 18th of the season, and off to overtime we went.
Toronto had the bulk of the chances early on in the extra frame, until a Nikolai Kulemin penalty saw Calgary get a chance on a 4-on-3 powerplay. They didn't do a whole lot with it, and off to a shootout, and what a weird shootout it was. After Tyler Bozak scored and Rene Bourque was stopped, things looked bleak...until three consecutive goals came off the sticks of Alex Tanguay, Kotalik and Olli Jokinen (Colby Armstrong scored for TO). Jokinen's would come in extra shooters after Grabovski was stopped, and the Flames would come away with two points and a 2-1 win.
One Good Reason...
...why the Flames won? They won the shootout, basically. It was a game where both teams seemed to be skating in quicksand, and neither team really controlled things. I thought Toronto was the better team for the latter half of the game, but it wasn't markedly slanted or anything like that. They stuck with it in the shootout, scored three times in succession, and got the two points.
I'll give her to Matt Stajan. He scored the only goal and centred the best Flames trio on the night, and hey, it was a pretty big game for him in his first visit to Toronto since January 31st of last year. That line has played some pretty good hockey over the first three games of this road trip, which is encouraging, as Stajan, Hagman and Curtis Glencross were not strong for a long period of time.
Sum It Up
Fact of the matter is, as much as people don't want to see them win right now, they're doing a pretty solid job of pulling out points when they need to. Are they playing incredible hockey? No, but they're finding ways over a 10 game span, with 14 points over that time. That's .700 hockey. Just sayin!