The Calgary Flames entered Friday night hoping for a win against (another) one of the NHL’s lowliest squads, the Florida Panthers. Despite being out-shot and out-scored in the first period at home once again, the Flames battled back and transformed what was originally a dull and plodding affair through 20 minutes into a rather spirited hockey match.
And that’s not even including the occasional comedy (on both ends of the ice) in the defensive zone. The Flames skated away with a 4-3 shootout victory. Here’s a look at how it happened.
The first period was a pretty low-event twenty minutes of hockey. The highlights included three Flames defensive-zone penalties, including the first infractions of the year for Sean Monahan and T.J. Brodie. The Panthers couldn’t muster much on their first period power-plays (they officially generated zero shots in six minutes of PP time), but they did get comfortable in the Flames zone. That comfort level aided them, as they finally broke the dead-lock near the end of the period. Nick Bjugstad won a offensive-zone face-off clean and drew it back to Tom Gilbert, whose knuckle-puck eluded Reto Berra and put the Cats up 1-0. The Panthers lead the Flames in the first period in shots (9-3), shot attempts (17-9), face-off wins (12-5) and goals (1-0).
The second period began much like the first, a rather low-event, plodding affair. However, the Flames began to find their footing and by the end of it, the ice had tilted decidedly towards the home squad. The Flames tied the game up with a scrambly goal, with David Jones eating up a Panthers turn-over and feeding Joe Colborne for the local boy’s third goal of the season. Soon after that, the Flames took the lead on the power-play. With Shawn Matthias in the sin bin for a hooking call, Calgary cycled the puck rather well. With Colborne parked in front of Tim Thomas, a T.J. Brodie point shot resulted in a ginormous rebound, which ended up on Sven Baertschi’s stick. The Swiss product buried the shot for his second goal of the season and gave the Flames a 2-1 lead.
The Flames had more pressure on the Panthers late, but couldn’t capitalize. In the second frame, the Flames lead in shots (11-7), but Florida retained the advantage in shot attempts (20-18) and face-offs (8-7). But the Flames were opportunistic when they had to be and entered the final frame with a lead.
The third period featured more action. Blair Jones, fresh from tearing up the American Hockey League, put the Flames up by two goals via a beautiful feed by Lance Bouma. Mikael Backlund and Bouma combined for some great fore-checking pressure on a line-change, and all Jones had to do was creep into the slot and deposit the puck into the open net. The two-goal lead proved to the most dangerous in hockey, though. A blocked shot at the point in the Florida zone sent the puck careening towards Reto Berra, with Shawn Matthias primed for a breakway chance. Berra skated to the blueline and poked the puck away from Matthias…and right to Jimmy Hayes, the trailing man on the rush. Whoops.
Here’s Reto Berra regretting that decision – pic.twitter.com/eK5u7x2lQw
— Sean Leahy (@Sean_Leahy) November 23, 2013
And the lead evaporated completely when a clearing attempt by the Flames careened back into their zone off of a player, leaving the Flames out-numbered 3-on-2 (with the remaining bodies being tired ones). Marcel Goc took advantage and fired the puck home to tie the game at three. The game went to overtime, which solved nothing. Through 65 minutes, the Flames were narrowly out-shot 26-24, out-attempted 64-40 and lost the face-off battle by a 34-24 margin.
We went to the shootout, where it took six rounds to clinch it for the hometown side. Jiri Hudler, Mike Cammalleri and, of course, Sean Monahan scored during the shootout for Calgary – Monahan with the winner – while Brad Boyes and Thomas Fleischmann scored for the Panthers.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The usual suspects didn’t provide much offense in the game, but the team’s secondary scoring reared its head throughout this game. I mean, seriously, Blair Jones scored. That’s pretty good for scoring depth.
In addition, despite getting out-played in the first, and getting sloppy in their own zone in the third, they managed to ride out the storm and get two points. They faced some adversity throughout the game, some by their own devices, but they didn’t let it kill them.
|Home||2||7:57||Baertschi goal PP||6||7||8||29||47||54||14||22||27||34||44||5v4|
|Home||3||14:21||B. Jones goal||4||7||11||17||19||29||7||16||19||24||34||44||5v5|
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Hometown boy Joe Colborne has looked more and more at ease in the Flames line-up. He had two points tonight and won 54% of his face-offs. Good enough for me!
SUM IT UP
The Flames weathered the storm once again and managed to pick up a victory. Now they boast an 8-11-4 record through 23 games. They’re in action next on Wedensday, when they host the defending Stanley Cup Champions. It’s the last four-day gap between games before the Olympics, so we all better make the most of it.