Is anyone shocked that the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames played to a one goal decision on Friday night? I would doubt it, as these two teams played the same type of game we’ve seen them play many times before…on this occasion, Rene Bourque’s shootout winner would give Calgary a 3-2 extra time win over their Northwest Division rivals, and Henrik Karlsson would pick up his second win in the Flames net.
A fairly non-descript opening period…kind of started off a fairly non-descript hockey game. Neither team really did much at even strength, and it was the powerplay that generated most of the scoring chances…overall, Kent had them 6-5 in favor of the Wild. Calgary had a 5-on-3 advantage in that first period, but both teams came away with nothing to show for their powerplay time.
The second period saw the first of the offence in this game, as Pierre-Marc Bouchard would open the scoring with his first of the season, and his first in 14 months at 12:37 to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. Karlsson would come up huge robbing Patrick O’Sullivan later on in the period, and the lead was negated late in the middle frame with the teams playing 4-on-4…Mark Giordano would finish off a nice Niklas Hagman rush with his third of the season, and the Flames took a little bit of momentum heading into the third. The Wild had the edge in the second I thought, and scoring chances seemed to bear that out, finishing 6-3 on the Wild side.
Calgary would stake themselves to their first lead early in the third period, thanks to Alex Tanguay who would pot his eighth of the season after a nice bit of work from Matt Stajan; Stajan would feed Tanguay who would make no mistake to put the Flames up by one. Calgary did a fairly nice job in the third period of keeping the Wild to the outside, limiting to them just four shots…but a mistake would lead to a goal, as Martin Havlat would cash on a great individual effort at 12:39…his sixth took things to overtime.
The extra frame saw the Flames get the best chance with Alex Tanguay unable to convert on a breakaway, and they’d end up with five shots on net in that extra frame. So, for the fourth time this season, it was off to the shootout…Alex Tanguay and Patrick O’Sullivan would score for the Flames and Wild respectively, setting up Rene Bourque’s shootout winner…the Flames win 3-2.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? They played a fairly solid game. No one team was markedly better in this game, but the Flames did enough to win the hockey game, and were deserving of doing so. Calgary did a nice job, especially in the third period, of limiting the Wild offensively…plus did a strong job of getting in the shooting lanes, with 15 blocked shots counted for Calgary. It looked like a pretty tentative effort for both teams, as both are struggling and failing to meet expectations…but the Flames did enough to come away with the win.
I also liked how Calgary stuck with it after the Havlat equalizer, not changing a whole lot and continuing to do a nice job on the Wild. Granted, Minnesota isn’t a great team…Kent compared them to a midget quality team at times, but if that’s the case, get the two points. The Flames did that, even if it seemed kinda difficult.
I liked Henrik Karlsson, he was very good, but this one has to go to Jay Bouwmeester. He finishes with 33:45 of ice time and was strong for the whole way through. His job in the defensive zone was extremely strong, making countless smart, important plays to negate chances. His outlet pass in overtime almost set up the game winner, and against some tough matchups, he fniished above water when it comes to scoring chances. Very impressive once again.
Sum It Up
Hey, it’s a win, and at this point, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is. Minnesota is a division opponent with a better record than the Flames, and if Calgary is going to try and march up their standings, the Wild are a team they’ll have to chase down. The Flames are within a point now, which would move them into third in the Northwest Division. Calgary has a pissed off opponent waiting in the wings…the Flames handled the Blackhawks 7-2 in their last meeting, and Chicago is coming off a loss to Vancouver on this night. Sunday’s game will be very interesting.