Seeing the Calgary Flames open up a 4-0 lead on the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night likely made some frustrated Flames fans breathe a little easier after their 4-1 loss in Chicago the night before. Seeing the Avalanche battle back to within a goal and almost tie the game on numerous occasions might have made that breath a little shorter. While it was a little too close for comfort, the main thing is simple: two points and back within striking distance of .500.
What a first period for the Calgary Flames for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, they were up 3-0 after 20 minutes. They did that by scoring just over two minutes into the opening frame on a nice little give-and-go finished off by Paul Byron in his second game with the team. Byron’s second career NHL goal came form Derek Smith and Lee Stempniak and started the night off in good fashion. At 5:47, a nice little bounce made it easy for Jarome Iginla to deposit his fifth of the season; two scoring chances, two Flames goals and it was 2-0. At 14:11, Curtis Glencross sniped number five on the season, capping off a very strong first period where Calgary outchanced the Avalanche 7-3.
The second period saw Colorado start to chase a little bit, especially after a fourth Flames goal courtesy of Stempniak. His fourth of the season came on a backhand from the right circle beating Semyon Varlamov at 9:36. Then things started to tilt, with the Avalanche scoring on a weak one of their own with a Milan Hejduk flutter shot popping out of Mikka Kiprusoff’s glove at 13:16; after review, the goal counted for Hejduk’s seventh of the season. You could really tell the Avs were chasing in the latter half of the second, and that would continue in the final 20 minutes.
Just 26 seconds into the third period, Colorado would get back within two with Matt Duchene ripping home his sixth of the season setting up a furious span with Calgary way back on their heels. The Avalanche outchanced the Flames 9-0 in the final frame, and they’d score on another one of them with David Jones good for his sixth at 15:25. The Kiprusoff show would kick into full gear after that, with #34 stoning Gabriel Landeskog on two ten bell opportunities and a few more along the way. With a great chance to tie things in the final seconds, Kiprusoff would shut the door one more time, preserving an important Calgary win.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? Well, as we saw as the game played out, it was the first period, plain and simple. It was one of Calgary’s best periods of the season, and it earned them a 3-0 lead. Why things got off the rails like they did for the remainder of the game is easy to answer technically, and more difficult to answer in theory. The team went away from their blueprint as the game went on, and allowed things to turn into a track meet, playing right into the hands of the opponent.
Miikka Kiprusoff, even with a bit of a gaffe on Colorado’s first of the night. He’d end up making 36 saves on the night and once again was at his best when things were at their most dire. His .932 even strength save percentage is well above what we’ve seen from him the last number of years, and he hasn’t shown any signs of regressing thus far.
Sum It Up
Yeah the final score ended up being too close for the Flames, but it’s a win. The team needs to find a way to get themselves above the .500 mark, and while they’re still a game below, at least they are within striking distance once again. Calgary has won eight in a row over the Avalanche, a team that they’ll likely be fighting with for a playoff spot. So, more positive than negative for me coming from this one.