It’s kind of refreshing to see the Calgary Flames win a hockey game where they were the better team and deserved to win it. That was exactly the case on Monday night when the Flames took a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, good for Calgary’s second straight win after a three game losing skid.
The start didn’t really look good for the Flames, as they looked sluggish to start things off and surrendered the games first goal at 8:11. Drew Stafford scored his 10th after a cough up in the Calgary zone and the Sabres would carry a 1-0 lead into the second period. The first period saw scoring chances favor Buffalo 7-4 and you knew the Flames needed a much better effort the rest of the way.
They’d get that in the second period, where the team really started to take it to a beat up and depleted Sabres team. Buffalo was playing without Tyler Myers thanks to the flu, which compounded injuries to Tim Connolly and Derek Roy and there were times when they looked it. Calgary tied the game at 2:26 after Olli Jokinen buried the puck off a Ryan Miller rebound; and Jarome Iginla would put the Flames up 2-1 late in the period on a bad pinch from Jordan Leopold. As the play went the other way, Alex Tanguay beat a chasing Jochen Hecht to feed Iginla who would make no mistake, and Calgary would carry a one goal lead into the third period.
Well, you’d expect the Sabres to really push to start the final frame off, but that wasn’t the case, because Calgary wouldn’t let them. The Flames outchanced Buffalo 8-1 which is significant when playing against a chasing team, and they’d score three times. Ales Kotalik would FINALLY get his first of the season at 2:20, ripping a wrister past Miller; David Moss and Tom Kostopoulos would also score for Calgary, while Patrick Kaleta had the only goal for Buffalo.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? Because, after a listless first, they outplayed the Sabres. Buffalo isn’t a great team to begin with, and with the rash of injuries they’ve suffered, they’re even less effective, and the Flames really did a nice job of forcing the issue. Head Coach Brent Sutter called it "getting your thinking cap on" in the second period, and the scoring chance count would speak to that. Calgary didn’t give Buffalo much in the final 40, and on the PK, the Flames gave the Sabres nothing…they deserved to win this game.
Cory Sarich actually had a pretty strong game, at least in the "saw him good" category. For what he’s being asked to do, I thought it was a better game for him, especially with the heavy workload he was asked to carry. Sarich finished with 22:30 of ice time, which was second on the Flames behind Jay Bouwmeester. Sarich played physical and did a pretty good job.
Sum It Up
The Flames were better and they won a game convincingly. That’s important for a team that has pissed away a few games where they were better, and had to use a late goal to do so against the Stars on Thursday. Also, Ales Kotalik scored and they played the above song at the ‘Dome; therefore, my night was made. Calgary isn’t getting any help from the teams in front of them, so they have to force their own issues…two wins in a row is big, and you’ve got a struggling Avalanche team on Friday night.