December 08 2013 12:02AM
Well, no regular season win feels quite as good than one against the Oilers. Except maybe the Canucks. No wait, in the wake of their "rebuild at all costs, the next six years mean nothing" arrogance, definitely the Oilers.
Even if the Flames blew Reto Berra's chance at a shutout with ten seconds left in the third, a win's a win. Beating the Oilers just feels so, satisfying.
The Oilers started off by driving play well and testing Berra early. At first, Berra seemed a little tentative in net and unsure of his surroundings (something that has become a reoccurring problem for him in previous starts) but he managed to settle down and make a number of solid saves with few rebounds in the first. Berra's play would become more and more controlled throughout the night, despite occasional lapses where he lost his crease.
With four minutes to play in the period, Lee Stempniak placed a Rembrandt of a wrister by the Dubnyk after some Yeoman's work from Matt Stajan to free him up on the right wing. Stajan and Stempniak continue to be one of the most consisted performers on the Flames' roster and tonight they were given a ton of minutes: Stajan with 22:29 and Stempniak with 20:42,
The real strength for the Flames in the first was the penalty-kill which killed off three Oiler chances and prevented the Oilers from many controlled zone entries on the power play. Paul Byron continued his strong play on the PK throughout this game and had a quality scoring chance on a shorthanded play during the second Oilers power play of the first. Chances were 8-3 Oilers in the first period, 4-0 at even strength and the Oilers outshot the Flames 12-6 after the first.
The second period was largely spent with the Flames clogging the OIlers up and not allowing them clean entries. Berra's play in the second was very solid as well as he was largely in position for the entire period. The second saw the Oilers outshoot the Flames 11-10 and outchance them 4-3 but, the Oilers had zero chances at even strength. A testament to the strong zone play of the Flames.
The final stanza was much of the same, the Flames killing off penalties (the Oilers finished the game 0-6) and preventing the Oilers from a great deal of sustained pressure.
However, with the extra attacker, and after Blair Jones narrowly missed a diving empty-netter, the Oilers managed to squeeze a cross-crease pass behind the back of Berra to find Taylor Hall who buried it into an empty net, ending Berra's hopes of his first NHL shutout. The Flames outchanced the Oilers 4-3 in the period, 3-2 at even strength.
In overtime, Kris Russell threw a harmless looking puck towards the front of the net where Justin Schultz channeled Bill Buckner, allowing the puck to slide to a waiting, flu-ridden, Jiri Hudler who smacked it past past Dubnyk to win the game for the Flames in OT.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames won because they got great goaltending and consistently frustrated the Oilers throughout the whole game. Also, the Oilers are not a good team. Especially with the man advantage.
Another encouraging thing is the fact that in Backlund and Baertschi are continuing to get regular shifts, with Backlund finishing the game with 14:03 of ice-time. Backlund is certainly playing some very good hockey since the Flames lost Monahan.
THE RED WARRIOR
Look, we have been hard on Mr. Berra in the last little bit at Flames Nation, so I have no problem saying that Berra was very good tonight and worthy of his first star accolades. The problem with Berra, aside from his mediocre performances, has been the fact that Hartley has gone back to him so very often while allowing Ramo to ride the pine.
At times, Berra can lose his net and lead to some frustrating goals but tonight he was solid. The exact kind of performance that the Flames needed from him in a hostile Barn in the second half of back-to-back games. If Berra could become a solid NHL backup goaltender, I would consider that an pleasant surprise but we are a long way from saying that.
The Flames beat the Oilers which is good, no matter what way you slice it. The Oilers continue to languish in the wilderness while the Flames begin to spend their rebuild currency with the fanbase. If they can continue to beat their provincial rivals, it will make any season of torment a lot easier to bear.
The next game for the Flames will be an emotional one. The Flames welcome Jarome Iginla back to the Dome on Tuesday night in a tilt against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is at 7:30 MT on TSN.