The Calgary Flames found a way to earn two points for a fourth straight game on Wednesday night, taking a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues in a game where they rode some good goaltending and some good bounces. The team goes into the All Star break on a high, and it sets up a much more interesting stretch drive than we might have thought a month ago.
After St. Louis took an early penalty, the Flames got their suddenly red hot powerplay working again, with a little help from their opponents. After a Ty Conklin save, Blues defenceman Erik Johnson scored the prettiest own goal I’ve ever seen, roofing a clearing attempt to put Calgary up 1-0. The initial shot came from David Moss, who would get number 11 on the season, and the Flames were pretty locked down for the rest of the first period.
The second period was as odd as you could get, with the Blues noticeably carrying the play, but it was the Flames who would come away with a pair of goals. Thanks to an early powerplay, Calgary would score again, this time with Moss tipping home an Anton Babchuk point shot for his 12th and second of the game, and all of a sudden, the Flames would have back to back games with multiple powerplay goals. And then you really knew it was Calgary’s night at 18:38 when Olli Jokinen would find Adam Pardy streaking down the left wing. He’d be sprung on a clean break to score his first of the season, putting a nice little move on Conklin to give Calgary a 3-0 lead heading into the final frame.
The Blues would keep pushing in the third, and finally break through, with Phillip McCrae getting his first career goal at 7:49 on a nice play from Jay McClement. But it was as close as St. Louis would get, as Jarome Iginla would ice it into an empty net with his 22nd at 19:16, and Calgary would skate to a 4-1 win. Overall, an all right first period and a couple breaks in the second was all Calgary would need in the scoring department, and some top notch saves from Miikka Kiprusoff did the rest. But that’s how teams win games sometimes.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? They got the bounces. For a team that got virtually zero bounces in the first 40 games of the season, seeing them get some in bunches as of late is just fine with most fans. In a lot of ways, it’s just the stuff teams can’t control evening themselves out. Bounces hurt the Flames in games earlier, they’re helping them right now, and it’s been part (but certainly not all) of the reason they’ve gotten back into this thing. They were never 14th place bad.
I’d like to give it to Pardy, but it’s gotta go to David Moss, who once again played a strong game. It shouldn’t surprise most readers here, because of how good he’s been the last six or seven weeks, but once again he was strong against the Blues. Along with Rene Bourque and Olli Jokinen, they were given some tough defensive responsibility, and finished above water in the scoring chance category overall. Moss scored two powerplay goals, well really one, but he scored his one goal by planting his big body in front of the net, and tipping home Babchuk’s shot.
Sum It Up
The win over Nashville and the win over St. Louis were different animals, but in the long run, it really doesn’t matter. The Flames held on for the final 40 minutes, but they found a way to close out the win, and they’re now just two points back of the playoffs. The Avalanche and Predators both lost on Wednesday, while the Kings beat the Sharks in a shootout, so Calgary keeps moving closer. With 31 games left, they’re right back in this thing…but they won’t win hockey games at this clip from here on out. But avoiding an extended slump needs to be the key now, because they’re going to lose games…not letting those losses snowball is what the playoff teams will do.