March 12 2014 11:20PM
The Anaheim Ducks came into Calgary hoping to get two much-needed points as they try to fend off the San Jose Sharks and retain their Pacific Division lead. They left Calgary bruised, battered and wondering how it all went wrong.
The Calgary Flames set a season-high for offensive output with a 7-2 shellacking of the Ducks in perhaps the most complete team game we've seen from this group all season long.
The first period was all Calgary, in the sense that they (a) drove play and (b) got the bounces. They opened the scoring via a Mark Giordano point shot that was slightly re-directed off an Anaheim stick. Then the Flames got a penalty, as Kevin Westgarth went off for hooking. Bad news, right? Nope! The Flames generated two odd-man rushes, on their PK: Jonas Hiller stoned Mikael Backlund on the first one (with Lance Bouma), but Paul Byron found TJ Galiardi and set him up with an easy tap-in past Hiller to make it 2-0 for the home side.
Anaheim's Hampus Lindholm then went off for hooking Paul Byron. The Flames celebrated with a quick power-play goal, their third goal on five shots, chasing Jonas Hiller from the game. Mike Cammalleri got the marker on a rebound. Back at even-strength, Mikael Backlund's shot bonked in off of some combination of a Ducks defender, Paul Byron and Frederik Andersen to give Calgary a 4-0 lead. Backlund got credit, anyway. And to cap off the period, Brian McGrattan beat Bryan Allen in a fight. Calgary lead the period in shots (8-7), attempts (16-13) and face-off wins (12-11).
Chris Butler took a late-period holding-the-stick penalty. The Ducks generated a little bit, but they also allowed Calgary to go in on a 3-on-2. Mikael Backlund opted to shoot instead of pass and scored his second of the game to make it 5-0 (on Calgary's second shortie of the game). The Flames went into the lovely “shell” - basically protecting the lead rather than actively fore-checking – and the shutout was broken at 12:30 of the second. Jakob Silfverberg fed Andrew Cogliano with a beautiful pass for a quick tap-tap goal to make it 5-1. That seemed to shake up the Flames, as they began skating harder and fore-checking again. Brian McGrattan had a partial breakaway that was barely broken up by a Ducks defender. On a broken play in the neutral zone, Paul Byron turned on the jets. He got the loose puck and drove the net. A shot attempt didn't materialize, so he went wide and fed, of all people, Ladislav Smid for a slapper. Smid scored his first as a Flame and just his second of the season. After 40 minutes, the Flames lead 6-1. Calgary lead in shots 10-8, but attempts were even in the second at 17-17 and the Ducks dominated the face-off dot 13-6, for all the good it did 'em.
The third period unfolded in very similar manner to the second. The Flames were full of confidence. The Ducks were full of desperation. The Flames seemed to ease up a bit. The Ducks scored a goal. The Flames pushed back a bit. The fans did the wave.
Happy birthday, Tyler Wotherspoon - here's a puck in the face.— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) March 13, 2014
Both Mikael Backlund (shot block) and Tyler Wotherspoon (puck in face) went off for a bit, but both returned to the game and finished it off.
About 8 minutes into the period, Nick Bonino went top corner on Ortio to trim the lead to 6-2. Again, the Flames were going into the shell a bit. After that, once again, the Flames woke up and pushed back. Their resolve paid off, with a flurry of chances leading to young Ben Hanowski feeding his roommate Corban Knight for the High River boy's first NHL goal. That cemented the 7-2 lead. Both teams were tied in shots 7-7, shot attempts were 15-15, while the Flames had a narrow 10-9 edge in face-off wins.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Well, there have been many, many games where the Calgary Flames played "their game" and nothing went right. Heck, look at basically the month of December. Tonight, they got the bounces and they just kept kicking at the can. When life gives you lemons, you don't ask "Hey, where did these lemons come from?" You grab those lemons and you score many goals with them.
The Calgary Flames didn't ask where their lemons came from tonight.
So, so many contenders. But let's go with our old buddy, Mikael Backlund. Backlund led the team with two goals, three points, four shots on goal, 61% in the face-off circle and only Mike Cammalleri played more amongst Calgary forwards.
And in general, the club's Killer Bs (Backlund, Bouma, Byron, Brodie, Butler) combined for two goals, nine points and a plus-13 rating.
SUM IT UP
With this brief homestand in the books, the Flames (26-33-7) hit the road for a quick pair of games in the American Southwest – Friday in Dallas and Saturday night in Glendale against the Phoenix Coyotes.
They're no closer to a playoff berth, nor to a lottery pick, but I'm sure the team's feeling pretty good about themselves as they hit the road once more.
There are 16 games left in the season - 7 home and 9 on the road.