The Flames didn’t do so hot against Jacques Lemaire’s old squad earlier this week, but they took care of business against his current club on Friday night at the Saddledome.
After finally ending a nasty goal drought that started before the Olympic break and wound up lasting 107 minutes and 45 seconds, Calgary picked up a 5-3 victory over Brent Sutter’s former charges, the New Jersey Devils.
Calgary looked in full control with a 5-1 lead and less than four minutes to play, but a couple of quick strikes by the Devils made things interesting.
Sutter created a new presumptive first line by plunking Rene Bourque on the left side with Matt Stajan and Jarome Iginla and the trio accounted for a third-period insurance goal.
But it was guys like Christopher Higgins, Curtis Glencross and Eric Nystrom greasing the wheel for the Flames as the home side overcame a 1-0 first-intermission deficit. Calgary turned the contest by capitalizing on some shakiness by Martin Brodeur — Nystrom beat the Devils netminder coming and going when he scored his second-period goal — and some sloppiness by Ilya Kovalchuk, who was stripped of the puck while working the point on the power play on the sequence leading to Glencross’ shorthanded marker.
All four lines took part in the offence as each contributed one even-strength goal — Stajan, Daymond Langkow, David Moss and Nystrom scored to go along with Glencross’ shortie — and every forward except Jamal Mayers recorded a point.
Much talked-about defenceman Steve Staios had a very unremarkable night in his Calgary debut. Partnered with Jay Bouwmeester, Staios played 20 minutes, took a minor penalty when he grabbed Kovalchuk’s stick, almost killed himself trying to deliver a hit and was minus-2. He had neither a hit nor a blocked shot.
To the best of anyone’s knowledge, there were no incidents at the Flames bench involving Vesa Toskala, Calgary’s other newcomer, slamming the gate on a teammate’s fingers.
Oh, and in case you’re interested, ex-Flame Dustin Boyd arrived in Detroit late this afternoon and wound up not dressing for his new club, the Nashville Predators, who lost 5-2 to the Red Wings.
- Curtis Glencross
- Eric Nystrom
- Zach Parise
Calgary’s Jamal Mayers and New Jersey’s David Clarkson went at it twice. The first tilt was fightfully uneventful but the fists were flying in the second bout. Clarkson scored the pinfall victory in both cases.
The Big Save
Shortly after Zach Parise had given the Devils a one-zip lead, New Jersey charged again. Dainius Zubrus made a great move and then a slick pass to set up Patrik Elias in the slot, but Miikka Kiprusoff slid across to pad away Elias’ quick shot. If the Devils put that one in for 2-0, who knows how the rest of the night goes?
The Big Hit
Trying to make an early impression on his new club, Steve Staios tried to make an impression into the endboards in the shape of Ilya Kovalchuk. Just before impact, however, Kovalchuk lost his footing and hit the deck, which resulted in Staios face-planting himself into the boards. But it wasn’t a totally lost cause for the Flames newcomer as the momentum of the collision brought his stick down onto the top of Kovalchuk’s de-helmeted head.
What It Means
The victory allows the Flames (31-24-9) to keep pace with the Red Wings, who defeated Nashville earlier Friday evening. Calgary remains one point back of Detroit for eighth place and each club has 18 games to go, including two head-to-head confrontations.
Calgary gets another crack at Cal Clutterbuck and the Minnesota Wild as the Flames travel to St. Paul for a Sunday matinee.