There are some nights where the Calgary Flames are really, really good and they skate to an impressive win. This was not one of those nights. With two regular forwards, both centers, out of the lineup, the Flames were able to bang off another two points, this time holding on for a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus controlled things for the majority of the hockey game, but a solid goaltending performance and an effective powerplay helped Calgary come away with a win, and really that’s all that matters.
It was another slow start for the Flames, allowing the first goal at 3:45 of the first period. As the Jackets broke in three wide across the blueline, Derek MacKenzie found Craig Rivet on the right side who ripped it past Miikka Kiprusoff, and just like that it was 1-0. But Calgary drew even after a really nice shift from their best line. A great cycle worked by David Moss, Curtis Glencross and Olli Jokinen finished with a great backhand bass from Glencross finding Jokinen for his 14th of the season at 8:13. Just 44 seconds later, Steve Mason helped Calgary out, booting a Jarome Iginla shot; after making the initial save, Mason let puck bounce up and behind him counting as Iginla 29th of the season. Even though the Flames were way down in the scoring chance count, they had the lead after 20.
Columbus drew even early on in the second, with Antoine Vermette banging home his 16th after a scramble in the crease, and it looked like the Jackets might be able to make a game of this. But then a Vermette high sticking call put Calgary up a man for four minutes, and they’d hone in like an alpine sniper…first a powerplay goal from Rene Bourque (thanks again Mason), followed by a great tip in front from Glencross and just like that, it’s 4-2 Calgary with a pair of powerplay goals. Matt Calvert would be stopped on a penalty shot, and the Flames held a two goal lead heading into the third.
The full court press was on from Columbus, and they’d score to get within one at 6:34 of the third period, with Jan Hejda driving home his third of the season from the left blueline after a horrendous giveaway by Cory Sarich. From what I saw, the puck WAS onside, and it gave the Jackets life. They’d get ANOTHER penalty shot shortly thereafter, and even though Vermette was stopped…it was still a junk call. Apparently the call was "throwing the stick" but, well, Anton Babchuk didn’t do that. Oh well. The Jackets went hard for the remainder of the third period, couldn’t draw even, and the Flames found a way to win another hockey game.
One Good Reason…
…why the Calgary Flames won? A pretty simple equation. Kiprusoff>Mason. Calgary was outplayed at even strength, and relied on their goaltender far too heavily on this night. Mason let in two that he probably shouldn’t have, and there’s your difference. Now, let’s look at it glass half full too. Sure the Flames weren’t great for the most part, but they were playing without two regular forwards, and they weren’t right because of it. Yet they still got the two points…that’s scary. The Flames are winning games they’re supposed to, and they’re winning games they’re not supposed to.
This is getting old. Once again, David Moss was out of his skull, at even strength and on the penalty kill. His line was the best on the ice, with Glencross and Jokinen having strong performances themselves. The way they performed tonight was the reason I didn’t want them split up with the injuries, so I’m glad they weren’t. Moss was in the plus when it came to ES scoring chances, which is an accomplishment knowing how the Flames were worked at times 5-on-5.
Sum It Up
Hey, it’s two points. Robert pointed out in the game chat that Calgary probably hasn’t played a full game since the 9-1 win in Colorado. Yet, in that span, they’ve still won five of their eight games. On this night, they weren’t strong, yet pulled out two points and gave themselves a little more breathing room to get themselves right down the stretch.
On the statistical side, we haven’t seen a team awarded two penalty shots in one game since 2009 when the San Jose Sharks had the honor. We haven’t seen a goaltender stop two in the same game like Kiprusoff did since 1986.