March 06 2014 12:04AM
After a relatively uneventful (for them) NHL trade deadline day, the Calgary Flames gathered their composure and headed into action against the visiting Ottawa Senators. While the pesky Sens are a formidable foe, the Flames also rode into battle against arguably their stiffest foe – their new third jerseys. Since introducing the Western-themed jerseys, the club had amassed an 0-8-0 record heading into tonight's contest – to the point where head coach Bob Hartley even weaselled out of wearing them on Western Night.
On this evening, the Flames – with their diminished roster complemented by several AHL call-ups from Abbotsford, finally won a game in their third jerseys. They beat the Senators by a 4-1 score, and they largely carried the play.
It was a weird game.
After getting zero run support in his first NHL start, Joni Ortio saw his teammates – some of whom were from Abbotsford – score a goal 124 seconds in. Max Reinhart picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, waited out the defense and then chucked the puck towards the slot. It took a bit of a bounce and landed right by Markus Granlund, who put home his first NHL goal. The Flames continued to push the pace early, to the point where they led in shots 7-0. The Senators finally got a shot on Joni Ortio 9:15 into the first. Then they peppered Ortio with 9 of the next 10 shots in the game, but the Flames took their 1-0 lead into the intermission. The Flames led in shots 9-8, but trailed in shot attempts 24-16. Face-offs were even at 11-apiece.
The second period was more even, skewed slightly towards Ottawa in flow of play. That said, the Flames were arguably more energetic and opportunistic. They got in penalty trouble a bit in the middle frame, but the club's usual suspects led the way with some nice shot blocks and kept the Flames up. The middle frame saw a nice short-handed scoring chance for Paul Byron and Joe Colborne, and a partial breakaway coming out of the box that Mark Giordano just couldn't bury.
The Flames got some PP time in, also, and near the end of their advantage, Paul Byron scored on a nice slap-pass set-up by Giordano. Late in the period, Joe Colborne made it 3-0 on a nice odd-man rush play with Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler that turned into a cycle down-low, with Colborne one-timing a nice cross-ice feed from Hudler. Shots were 9-9 in the second. Ottawa led in shot attempts 16-12, while Calgary had a 13-10 edge in face-offs.
The third period was a bit like a murder mystery, as Flames kept disappearing. Dennis Wideman didn't come out for the third due to upper-body injury. Clarke McArthur checked Jiri Hudler off the puck, and Hudler awkwardly twisted on his way into the boards and collided with no way to protect himself. That led to an on-ice scrum and Hudler's night ending prematurely. Joe Colborne later went awkwardly into the boards with tangled with Chris Phillips, both seemingly injuring himself and taking a penalty – though he did return later in the third period.
That Colborne injury does not look good.. Ankles don't usually twist like that. pic.twitter.com/sT851sUqXP— Christian Roatis (@CRoatis) March 6, 2014
The pace for the Flames suffered due to the missing bodies, as tons of guys ended up getting a lot more time than they're used to – Brian McGrattan played over 10 minutes. Joni Ortio's shutout bid was snapped via an odd play; an attempted pass/shot hit Ladislav Smid in the backside, the bounced to Kyle Turris, who put it past Ortio. Less than a minute later, though, Mike Cammalleri put a rebound home on the power-play to give Calgary a 4-1 advantage, which was all they needed. Shots were 14-10 Ottawa in the third. Shot attempts were 20-15 Ottawa, while Calgary uncharacteristically edged them 13-12 in face-offs.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Calgary's kids came out of the gate looking to prove themselves – they scored two minutes in and really took it to Ottawa early. Ortio was sharp, and seemingly every AHL call-up – save for maybe Ben Hanowski, who merely looked fine – had a nice moment, be it Corban Knight's screen on Byron's goal, or Granlund back-checking, or Reinhart creating chances, or Byron hustling... Everyone contributed. A good, solid team win for the Flames on a day full of potential distractions.
Also, fun fact: it took Joni Ortio two NHL appearances to get his first regulation win. It took Reto Berra 26 of them.
Another fun fact: six of the last seven Flames draft classes were represented in the line-up: 2007 (Backlund), 2008 (Brodie & Bouma), 2009 (Ortio), 2010 (Reinhart), 2011 (Granlund) & 2013 (Monahan). Spooky.
Mark Giordano played just under 28 minutes. He had two assists. He was leaned on heavily in the third. He responded the way you'd hope your captain would.
Honourable mention to Paul Byron, who continues to be really good.
SUM IT UP
Twenty games to go! The Flames have improved to 24-31-7. Wideman and Hudler will be evaluated tomorrow.
I wonder how many Abbotsford players we'll see up with the main club on Friday night, as the team honours (but doesn't retire) Joe Nieuwendyk's number prior to their Retro Night game with the New York Islanders.