October 26 2011 11:23PM
The Calgary Flames played one of, if not their best, first period of the season and carried over some good things into the second period, and it was enough to take a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. While their final frame wasn't the picture of perfection, they staved off a chasing opponent and closed out their third win of the season. With two games to go on a six game homestand, it was a big win for the Flames.
It was the Flames controlling the opening stages of the first period, running up the shot count and getting some early scoring opportunities, both even strength on the powerplay. However, after taking a penalty of their own, the impressive Colorado powerplay went to work and clicked at 10:50 with Kyle Quincey potting his second off the rebound. But a good response from Calgary helped tie the game just under three minutes later, thanks to a great second and third effort from Roman Horak who scored his first NHL goal on his behind at 13:48. The Flames ran the scoring chance count in the first, with a 7-3 edge at even strength.
Calgary took their first lead of the game early in the first period, with Lee Stempniak scoring his first as a Flame batting a loose puck out of the air on a bit of a broken play at 3:48. It was a second straight strong game for Stempniak, who was Saturday's Red Warrior against Nashville. The Flames went on the powerplay midway through the second, and cashed in with Rene Bourque batting another puck out of the air for his fourth of the season. It was a decent middle frame, but the Avs seemed to start tilting things towards the latter stages.
That tilting was fully realized in the third, as the Avs put 20 shots of their own on net and went on a 10-1 even strength scoring chance run, only to be thwarted by Miikka Kiprusoff on nine of those opportunities. The one Kipper didn't stop was a large rebound for Ryan Wilson (who only scores against the Flames it seems), who scored his first of the season from the left circle at 15:29. With the net empty, Rene Bourque would seal it with his second of the night after being tripped with an empty net as the Flames took a 4-2 win.
One Good Reason...
...why the Flames won? Because they ran the show for the majority of this game. While they hung on in the final 20 minutes or so, Calgary was pretty good in the opening two frames, primarily the first period. They limited shots and didn't allow much of anything of note until the Avs cranked it up in the third. All in all, a better effort for the home side with some things to build on for Friday's game against St. Louis.
That jerk Vintage Flame forced my hand on this one putting out a Twitter vote, but I think I probably would have to agree with the masses...Roman Horak. On for eight of Calgary's 14 even strength scoring chances, Horak saw 16:29 of ice time and scored for the first time in this league. He's a smart player and hasn't looked overmatched once in his short NHL career.
Sum It Up
Not perfect by any stretch, and the third period wasn't a pretty one whilst protecting the lead, but the Flames did an effective job in gaining a two goal lead and deserved the win. Let's not forget, they were the much better team while the game was tied or within one, and the Avs do have some offensive punch which they showed at times in this one. We knew they were going to push back and they did, so I'm not overly worried about the third period for Calgary, even if it wasn't exactly what they wanted.