When the news came down that the Phoenix Coyotes were going to play this one without the likes of Hanzel and Vrbata, there was little doubt that Calgary needed this one. Not just to get themselves back to the .500 mark but to show many that even with this mish-mash lineup, they could skate with the conference contenders; even if the opposition was playing with one hand tied behind their back.
The Flames left the last one licking their wounds and branded by embarrasement, this time they dug deep and were able to bite back to pull out a much needed and much deserved victory; keeping hopes everywhere alive.
Calgary took a page out of the Yotes playbook from last time they met with an early goal on the re-direct from Tim Jackman. Winning an offensive face-off and then crowding the net made it difficult for Mike Smith to track where the puck was. Jackman hopped on the loose puck and in one swift motion, lifted the backhand home like the goal-scorer we all know he can be!
The remaining 17 mins were a fairly low event period, in fac the pace was very similar to last night’s game with the Flames showing a little more jump, which was encouraging; not to mention as Ryan Pike reported from the Dome, Calgary’s ability to connect on far more passes.
The Flames failed to capitalize on a 4 min PP, Yotes immediately get an even up call on weak penalty to Stempniak.Though the play stayed in the Flames end for most of it, Calgary did a good job of letting MacDonald see the shots, that mostly came from the outside.
Calgary out-shot Phonex 7-6 and out-chanced the Yotes 5-2, 2 of them coming while on the 4 min PP.
The second period was all about the refs as they felt like deserved their time on the spotlight. First Lee Stempniak took a minor for… then Stajan was called moments later for a rediculous holding penalty. Despite that, the Flames only allowed 1 shot against on the 5 on 3. After killing that, the ref decided that Matty came on the ice too soon so he sent him back to the box for interference??? What ever helps you sleep at night stripes. On that insuing PP, Clagary blocked the shot coming in from the point only to have Bouwmeester inadvertantly kick it passed MacDonald, into his own net. Tie game.
Despite the calamaty of errors leading to the tied game, the Flames responded very well, controlling the play and generating some nice scoring chances.
So of course that meant it was time for the refs to call another rediculous penalty. Mike Cammalleri would be the second Flame in successive nights to go to the box for a face-off violation (Dumbest. Rule. Ever.). Though the Flames would kill it off, Raffi Torres would score to put the Yotes up before Cammy could get back in the play.
With it starting to feel like the Flames were fighting a war on two fronts, somone was going to have to step up for Calgary and get the team back on track. Cue the captain. With 3 and a half left in the second, Iggy would dig for the puck behind the net, when it got to the side, he would dig for the puck there too. Finally, from his knees, he would take one last stab at the puck and push it passed Mike Smith to tie the game at deuces.
Sparked to life, the Flames pressed the Yotes, shift after shift. With numerous chances coming late in the period, Mike Cammalleri’s first goal not against Dallas, would put Calgary ahead with just 34 seconds left in the middle frame. Curtis Glenncross would draw the assist, his 100th, and 200th point of his career. Congrats Scoreface!
Despite trailing for a time, Calgary dominated the play in the second. They out-shot Phoenix 15-7 but drew even 6-6 in scoring chances. More importantly, the period seemed to wake up Iginla, ending the frame with a tete-e-tete with Antoine Vermette.
Early in the third, the Flames would get caught chasing. Raffi Torres would start the play in his own zone and as the Flames flocked to the puck carrier, Michalek, Torres would sneak back into the play. With pleanty of time and space, Raffi scored his second of the game to tie it up… again.
Momentum shifted to the Yotes after the tying goal. As they took it to the Flames, MacBackup made a few really nice saves to keep his team in it as they tried to find their game again. That wouldn’t last for too long. With Phoenix hammering Calgary 12-2 in shots, Nick Johnson would backhand home the go ahead goal. The Flames were reeling and starting to look desperate.
With 82 seconds left in the hour glass, Calgary needed someone to step up… again. and again, cue the captain. Alex Tanguay would dish a beautiful cross ice pass to Iginla. Jarome, on one knee would control the puck just long enough to get it passed Smith for his second of the night, and getting the Flames even on the board.
Solice in knowing that Calgary would at least salvage one point as we all felt like this one was going to OT?
Not so fast…
Just after I criticized the night of one Curtis Glencross, Scoreface was more than happy to throw it back in my face after taking a deft pass from Lee Stempniak and burying the slap shot passed Smith. Holy crap, the Flames lead 5-4 with only a minute to go.
Calgary would be out-shot 14-9 and the two team would again draw even with six scoring chances apiece, but the Flames staved off that last minute and held on for the win.
Why The Flames Won…
Because despite being dominated for a long period of time by a better opponent, the Flames continued to press and try and find a break in the Yotes armor and a holes in Mike Smith’s defence.
Because when the Flames panicked after giving up the tying and go-ahead goals, they were able to take a deep breath and get back to the game that got them the lead on two different occasions in this game.
Because unlike the last time they faced the Coyotes, they didn’t fold like a cheap tent and even when they had appeared to run out of gas in the third frame, the team was able to find another gear to ignite the offense.
… Because the captain was in fine form tonight and like we have seen so many times in the past, was able to pick this team up and drag them for another win that almost slipped away.
Like there could be any doubt tonight.
Let’s go with the Captain tonight. It wasn’t just that Iggy had two goals on four shots tonight, but rather when and how he scored those two goals. He did it with tenacity and he scored them when his team needed him to.
Tonight was one of those nights where the big guy led by example; almost 20 minutes of ice-time and was 50% in the face-off circle.
He was just an assist and a right cross to Antoine Vermette’s face away from a
Gordie Howe Jarome Iginla Hat-trick, and hey… Wouldn’t that have just been the piece de-la resistance for tonight?
You could see that Iggy got fired up in the second period and when that happens, he does have the capability of lighting up this whole offence. We got to see that tonight, and that’s why he get’s the nod!
Sum It Up
All in all it was a good effort tonight from your Calgary Flames. It looked in the first that we were going to be in for yet another low-event hockey game where the Flames held on to a narrow lead and then dumped and iced the puck until the opposition just tired of it, and decided to change the whole dynamic.
With shoddy officiating and a self-fulfilling prophecy working against them, the Flames decided to rise above their stereotype and with Iginla like a Phoenix (pun intended) rising from the ashes, decided not to finish this off like they were on night #2 of a back-to-back; and subsequently claw their way back to .500.
Much like the come from behind win against the Stars, (maybe that’s why Cammalleri scored tonight?) Calgary straight up earned this win.
With two wins and a row, the Flames now have to keep momentum in their favour. They get the WIld yet again on Tuesday. It’s another game they can win, and should win. Things got pretty chippy on Saturday’s match and with this being their third meeting in 16 days, expect that chippiness to get even worse. I’m sure there are a few people that would like to have a talk with Dany Heatley after the way he treated Tanguay in the last one.
It’s also another chance to move above .500 and depending how things shake out between now and then? Calgary is only two points out of a play-off spot, with a game in hand. The funny thing about games in hand is that they only matter when you win them right, so let’s hope they make this one count.
See you Tuesday. Game time is 6:00 PM on SNET-W