38 saves from Ilya Bryzgalov and a pretty even keel effort in front of him was the winning formula for the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night, en route to a 3-0 win over the Flames, snapping Calgary’s three game win streak. Bryzgalov was the story, but I don’t know if he stole the hockey game; it was a fairly even 60 minutes, and on this night, a tired Flames team wasn’t able to come out on the winning side.
The first period was a fairly lethargic one for the visitors, and Phoenix was able to generate somescoring chances, coming out on top of the count by a 6-3 mark. Henrik Karlsson got the start in net for the Flames, and he’d make eight first period saves to help Calgary skate to a scoreless first period. The Flames looked like a team that had played a 65+ minute game the night before in the first period, but were able to limit any damage.
The second period was an interesting one, with the Coyotes opening the scoring at 1:51 of the middle frame thanks to a nice passing play finished off by Brett MacLean. It was a fast entry into the offensive zone for Phoenix, and Kyle Turris fired a nice pass to Mikkel Boedker before he’d feed MacLean for his second of the season and a 1-0 lead. Things would remain fairly even until about the midway mark of the period, when the ice really started to tilt. Calgary would end up firing 19 shots on Bryzgalov in the second, while generating 12 scoring chances…they had a number of ten bell chances to tie this hockey game, but were unable to convert. It was good to see Calgary get back on track though, after a fairly meh opening 30 minutes.
The real question was if Calgary could keep their push going into the third period, and while it’s not as if they didn’t play well, it was going to be tough to keep that pace going. At 4:49, the Coyotes would once again enter the zone with speed, and with Eric Belanger carrying the puck, the defending Steve Staios would trip and fall opening up a little more space. Belanger would use it, firing his 11th past Karlsson for a 2-0 lead, which when playing Phoenix is not an easy thing to come back from. Calgary would get a few chances as the third moved along, but it was sealed on a late Shane Doan empty netter…Bryzgalov’s effort was good for his 22nd career shutout.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Eh, we’ll go with strong opposing goaltending. It was a pretty lethargic opening 30 minutes or so, but Calgary only found themselves down by a goal, so it wasn’t really the whole story in this game. The Flames started to chase a little, and as they played the score, Bryzgalov got stronger, and he made a number of quality stops. He deserved the shutout, but again, he didn’t steal this hockey game…the Coyotes played the way they win hockey games, and they won a fairly even hockey game.
I really liked Mikael Backlund tonight. He was just as much a driving force on his line with Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos as the two guys on his flank. Backlund was strong against Dallas as well, in limited time, and all three players on the Calgary fourth line finished in the black scoring chance wise. Backlund may not be ready for a top six role, but I like the job he’s doing where he is.
Sum It Up
Hey, Calgary was ont the second half of a back-to-back, and this stuff happens. They weren’t bad, and they got things going as the game went along. As we were talking about in the live chat, the Flames are going to lose regulation games here…of their 12 remaining games, seven of them come against playoff or playoff chasing teams. The other five come against some, well, not so good teams…and those are ten crucial points for Calgary.