Winless in their last six games, the Calgary Flames roamed into unfamiliar territory – Winnipeg’s MTS Centre – on Monday night for their first visit to the Winnipeg Jets since the spring of 1996. With visions of blown leads and getting wildly out-chanced in the back of their collective heads, the Flames hoped to avoid their recent losing ways.
And despite falling into exactly the kind of habits that caused them to lose each of their last six games, the Flames somehow came out on top against the Jets.
Nobody scored a goal in the first period, but it was a fairly fast-paced, back and forth period. The Jets generally carried the play, hemming the Flames in their own zone for a few stretches – notably once off a Mikael Backlund turnover – but the Flames avoided much of the danger. The Jets and Flames each had maybe one solid scoring chance, but overall the period was nothing terribly memorable. The Jets out-shot the Flames 11-6, out-attempted them 24-14 and won more face-offs by a 13-6 margin.
The Flames generated some decent chances in the second, including one gorgeous chance for Lance Bouma on a two-on-one shorthanded rush with Matt Stajan. Calgary finally opened the scoring on the power-play midway through the period. With some good puck movement around the perimeter, the Flames attacked – Sean Monahan fed Lee Stempniak, who slid the puck to Mike Cammalleri who scored his ninth goal of the season. However, soon after that, the Flames weren’t able to clear their own zone and Michael Frolik put a rebound past Reto Berra to tie the game.
The Flames responded, though. Again, via some nice puck movement in the offensive zone; Lee Stempniak and Matt Stajan won a puck battle, the puck trickled to Cammalleri, who passed to Kris Russell, who fed T.J. Brodie at the point. Brodie’s point shot glanced off Frolik’s stick and fluttered over top of Al Montoya to re-establish Calgary’s on-goal lead. The Jets out-shot the Flames 23-9 in the second, out-attempted them 37-18 but the Flames won more face-offs by a 13-8 margin.
Entering the third period with a lead, the Flames had only lost once all season (against Edmonton). Olli Jokinen tied things up with a weird goal through a screen – it was basically a soft wrister that beat Reto Berra just over his near shoulder. Immediately afterwards, the Flames again couldn’t clear the puck and after getting hemmed in their own zone for a bit, took a penalty. The usual game script called for a Jets power-play goal and a Flames third-period collapse. But this group really doesn’t seem to care about the script.
Lance Bouma made up for not capitalizing on his earlier two-on-one, as he went into the Jets zone short-handed with Stajan and, via some nice puck movement on the rush, beat Montoya to put Calgary up 3-2. Then 53 seconds later, the Flames PK couldn’t clear out a loose puck and Dustin Byfuglien slapped a puck past Berra to tie the game up once more. The Flames responded again, establishing some offensive zone pressure and going to work. Sven Baertschi, Jiri Hudler and Brodie cycled the puck and Hudler shot the puck at the net – glancing it off Mark Scheifele’s skate and in for another Flames lead.
Unfortunately, the Flames couldn’t hold on (again), with the Jets pulling their goalie and Bryan Little taking advantage of the holes in coverage having a sixth skater opens up. He put a rebound past a diving Reto Berra with just 5.6. seconds left in regulation to send the game to extra time. The Flames narrowly out-shot the Jets in the third 13-10, but the Jets had more shot attempts (24-19) and face-off wins (15-9). Oh, and goals.
Overtime was another back and forth affair, with Ladislav Smid even getting into the Jets zone on a rush and generating some chances. But the extra five minutes solved nothing. Calgary out-shot the Jets 5-3, but were out-attempted 7-6 and lost the face-off battle by a 6-2 margin.
The shootout went to eight rounds – with Joe Colborne, Lee Stempniak and Sean Monahan scoring for Calgary and Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler scoring for the Jets – but Calgary skated away with a 3-2 win in the skills competition, finally breaking their losing skid.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Because the Jets are roughly as bad in the defensive zone as the Flames are. Besieged by injuries on their blueline and pretty disorganized, the Flames were able to play a punch-counterpunch game with the Jets simply because the Jets weren’t able to shut them down.
But the Flames also gave up points to an in-conference opponent because they couldn’t hold a third-period lead, so it’s not like this was a hugely successful game. They got out-shot, out-shot-attempted and lost many face-offs, but didn’t roll over and were able to be opportunistic enough to be in a position to win the game.
|Home||2||19:01||Kane break away||9||12||24||26||33||35||6||23||24||29||44||47||5v5|
|Away||2||13:44||Bouma rebound SH||16||18||26||33||35||39||7||17||18||29||44||5v4|
|Away||2||11:00||Cammalleri goal PP||16||18||33||35||39||4||13||22||23||24||29||4v5|
|Away||3||8:52||Bouma goal SH||9||12||33||35||39||40||3||7||17||18||29||5v4|
|Home||3||7:51||Byfuglien goal PP||16||18||26||33||35||39||3||7||17||18||29||5v4|
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
A few candidates, but I’m gonna give it to Lee Stempniak. Stempniak was a factor for arguably the first time since returning from his foot injury. He was involved in all three zones, including a crucial goal in the shootout to extend the game.
The runner-up is Sven Baertschi, who was pretty damn good all game long after looking like a potential healthy scratch early in the day.
SUM IT UP
The Flames improve their record on the year to 7-11-3. They’re in action again on Wednesday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The game starts at 8pm and will be on all manner of Sportsnet media properties for your viewing and/or listening pleasure.