The Winnipeg Jets came into town tonight on the second game of a back-to-back and you could tell they were feeling the effects from last night’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks. After the Flames went up on leads of 3-0 and 4-2, it was pretty much over for the newer Atlanta franchise as the older Atlanta franchise emerged with the 5-3 win.
It was one of a few games this season that actually had the crowd going before the puck drop-the dueling Jets and Flames cheers gave this writer a few goosebumps. When the game started, however, it wasn’t much of a duel. After a wild start, the Flames opened the scoring just 4 minutes in with Mark Giordano potting a power play goal in the left corner of the net for his 7th of the year. The Flames continued to push hard and before the 13 minute mark of the first two more goals would be added to the total-another power play marker from Jarome Iginla, moving the needle to 28 for him on the year and a great second effort by Matt Stajan led to his 4th of the season. The Flames would sit back a little towards the end of the period, however, and the Jets made them pay for it. Evander Kane got his 27th of the year with less then 3 minutes left after a defensive breakdown left him all alone at the back door for the easy tap-in. Speedster Blake Wheeler would put one more past Miikka Kiprusoff before the end of the period, with his wrister just sneaking under the glove of Kiprusoff for his 17th on the season. The Flames were outshot and outchanced in the period by a fairly small amount-14 to 16 and 9 to 12 respectively.
The second period would be a much tamer affair with the only goal coming at 12:53. Stajan fed the puck up to Iginla and while Iginla was stopped on the breakaway, Alex Tanguay was there to clean up the rebound and from a sharp angle potted his 11th of the season. There was a bit of a dust up in front of the Flames net at 15:20 of the period, which ended with Curtis Glencross calling Nik Andropov some kind of feline as they skated to the box to serve their coincidentals. The Flames were outshot 9-12 in the period but outchanced the Jets 6-5.
There was nothing doing in the third until 9:54 when Iginla was set up on a tape-to-tape pass from Tanguay and absolutely murdered the puck-but Ondrej Pavelec just got his blocker on it to keep the score at 4-2. The Flames would break though about 90 seconds later though with their third power play goal of the night-this one off a beauty Tanguay skate pass right to Curtis Glencross in front to the net-to put the Flames up 5-2. The Jets would add one more when Tobias Enstrom absolutely destroyed the biscuit and got it past Kiprusoff in rather weak fashion for just his 5th goal of the year. Winnipeg would have another one waived off-and rightfully so-due to a high stick. From there, the Flames shut it down-well, kinda-and would emerge as the victors of a hard-fought game. Shots in the third were 4-17 for the Jets and while the chance count was closer, the Jets still beat up on the Flames, 4-8.
1. Alex Tanguay
2. Jarome Iginla
3. Miikka Kiprusoff
First of all, honorable mention to Matt Stajan. Dude has been just getting destroyed out there and most of the infractions against him have been missed by the refs-but he’s playing by far his best hockey in a Flames uni these past ten games. Hopefully he can keep it up.
It was definitely the best second period in a while for the Flames-they actually won both the chance battle and the goal battle in the second. While the shots and chances were slanted towards the Jets for the most part, I’m willing to chalk it up to score effects since the Flames were up by two or three for the bulk of the contest.
For those wondering: SVEN had an OK game. He didn’t play much, but when he was on the ice it was quite clear he’s still in the junior hockey mindset-the “I can deke around everyone” mentality. He definitely showed flashes of what he can be but he did look smallish out there. I still want him to have 6-12 months in the AHL and it would be good if he could put on 10 or so more pounds of muscle…but it’s obvious he’s going to be a player.
All in all, a good game and it allows the Flames to keep holding onto hope.
The Flames’ next game is Sunday, when they head to chilly Minny to take on the Wild. Game time is 4 PM Mountain (FAN 960 and Sportsnet West).