Some of Calgary’s more recent wins have come in games where they weren’t playing the type of hockey that’s gotten them back into the Western Conference playoff race, but some good fortune and opportunistic scoring staked them to some important wins. In Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators, the Flames were the better team because of the way they played, and they now sit fifth in the Western Conference.
After Olli Jokinen rang a shot off the outside post in the early seconds of the first period, it was the Preds scoring first on a bit of a goal mouth scramble. After a nice play by David Legwand to move the puck to the middle, Martin Erat would hammer home a loose puck for his 11th of the season and a 1-0 Nashville lead. But just like Friday’s game against Columbus, the Flames would rebound thanks to a very fortunate bounce, this time on the powerplay. A Mark Giordano point shot would pinball a few times and eventually up and over Preds goalie Pekka Rinne, and at 7:15 of the first things were all tied at one. Nashville would strike again 5-on-5 in the later stages of the first, with Erat feeding Ryan Suter for a great shot from on top of the left circle…with scoring chances even at seven, the Preds took a 2-1 lead into the intermission.
The second period was one of Calgary’s better periods over the last number of games, and it started with a bang. After Jarome Iginla was sprung on an early breakaway, it was penalty shot time again at the ‘Dome. But it was Iginla, so he wasn’t scoring…moving on. Oh, except Iginla pulled out "some kinda move" and went fivehole on Rinne, outlasting the Preds goalie and scoring his 30th of the season. The goal was quite the milestone, becoming the tenth player in league history to do just that for ten straight seasons, so good on him. The Flames would keep pushing after that goal 59 seconds in, and they put together a dominant second period and were tied 2-2 after 40.
Calgary was 10-2 when tied after two periods heading into this final frame, and they’d add another number to the left side of that record, putting together another impressive third period. After a pretty strong shift from the second line of Rene Bourque, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross a puck would pop loose at the top of the crease, and Glencross would pounce for his 22nd of the season at 10:23. The Flames would do a very nice job to contain a chasing Nashville team, still coming out ahead in the chance count and the team was full marks for a 3-2 regulation win.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? Because they were the better team, start to finish. The Flames and Preds were fairly even in the first period, and you might even make the argument Nashville carried the play. But right off the hop in the second period, Calgary came to play and they could have scored two or three others on top of Iginla’s penalty shot goal. Rinne was very strong in this game, and held Nashville in this one in the final 40, but the Flames didn’t get away from their game, and once again they were rewarded.
This one is easy tonight. Jarome Iginla has done something only nine other players have done in this league, and the first ballot Hall of Famer joins an exclusive crew along with the likes of Gartner, Esposito, Dionne, and Gretzky. The top line with him, Tanguay and Moss were very good, especially in the final 40 minutes, but on a night like this, Iginla deserves the nod.
Sum It Up
Hey, for the first time in a few games, the Flames were the better team and they won the hockey game. They ran into a Vezina quality goalie and were still able to keep moving forward. This is an important regulation win, and if Nashville misses the playoffs, they’ll think back to their four losses against Calgary this season. The Flames move into fifth in the West, and they keep winning, and they keep making it difficult on the teams with games in hand. This whole "playoffs" dream is becoming more and more a reality.