After a sub-par effort in Anaheim against the Ducks, the Calgary Flames headed to Los Angeles hoping for a better result, particularly with the team’s dads along for the road trip. With a few line-up changes (Karri Ramo, Shane O’Brien and Paul Byron in; Reto Berra, Chris Breen and Sven Baertschi out), the Flames hoped to jump-start their club.
The game ended up being a tight-checking, physical affair. But the Flames brought their working boots, especially compared to their game in Anaheim, and skated away with a 2-1 victory on the road.
The first period generated few shots – on either side – but the Kings generated more opportunities and the puck stayed out of Calgary’s net due to some wonderful puck luck and the scrambly energy of one Karri Ramo, making his first start since the Reagan administration. The period was quite chippy, with many hits – foreshadowing more physicality later on – but the Kings kept Calgary to the perimeter, especially on their power-play. The Kings led after 20 minutes in shots (7-5) and shot attempts (20-13), but Calgary dominated the face-off dot 8-3.
If you think that “not getting blown out” in the first period in a Californian city is being successful, the Flames built upon that success in the second and played with a bit more confidence and drive. That resulted in more hitting, slightly more effective poke-checking and a period that wasn’t quite “dominated” by Calgary five-on-five, but one that definitely saw them drive most of the play. The Flames PP continued to struggle, being reduced to just a single shot during 1:20 of five-on-three time. That’s right – a single shot. The physical play continued, including Matt Stajan taking exception to a Dustin Brown check to his upper-body and executing what was basically a judo takedown. This resulted in a Flames power-play because the referees apparently saw the head-shot by Brown prior to that. Anyhoo, after a period that the Flames pushed the pace, Ladislav Smid got a game misconduct and a five-minute penalty for a hit from behind on Dwight King.
Because Calgary kept forechecking, and because Ben Scrivens is criminally unlucky, the Flames scored more goals on the five-minute penalty kill than the Kings did. The Flames dumped the puck into the LA zone. Scrivens went to play the puck, fell over awkwardly and Paul Byron fed Blair Jones, both recently of the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Heat, to put the Flames up by a goal. The Flames killed the remainder of the major. Even with an entire five-minute power-play, the Kings only eked out a slight shot advantage (10-9), were even with Calgary in shot attempts (19-19) and had a slight face-off edge (13-12). But the Flames scored the period’s only goal.
It was a tight, tight third period. The first half or so of the period continued to be carried by the Flames, although the Kings pushed back at certain intervals. As the clock wound down, the Kings began to push for an equalizer. And the Kings scored a weird one, as Justin Williams evened it up with four and a half minutes left. It was a really quick snap-shot from the high slot, but there was no tip or screen or anything. The Kings continued to press, but the Flames pushed back. With the game looking like it would go to extra time, much like Calgary’s last visit to Los Angeles, the Flames decided they didn’t want to wait for overtime. Mikael Backlund, Mike Cammalleri and Lee Stempniak combined for some nice offensive zone pressure, as Cammalleri got the puck down behind the red line and out-muscled Slava Voynov. Cammalleri got knocked down, but Stempniak collected the puck, fed it to Backlund, who fed it to a now-recovered Cammalleri, who deposited the puck behind a sprawling Ben Scrivens with 23 seconds left. The Kings had no time left to respond and the Flames skated away with a hard-fought 2-1 victory. Shots in the third were 6-5 LA. Shot attempts were 17-11 LA. Face-offs were 12-9 Calgary. The Flames were barely out-shot (22-20) and out-attempted (56-43) during the game, but kept the edge in the face-off circle for once (32-25) and won on the road.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Timely goaltending? Check. Gutsy performances from bottom-six guys like Byron and Blair Jones? Check. Good penalty-killing? Check. As complete a sixty minutes you could hope for from a team that played fairly poorly the day before in Anaheim? Check.
To be simple? The Flames won because they out-worked the Los Angeles Kings, full-stop.
Lee Stempniak had maybe his best game as a Flame. And he’s been gradually better and better since returning from his foot injury. But Stempniak played 23:05, was matched aganst some of the Kings best players and still managed to contribute and help set up the game-winner.
Honourable mention to T.J. Brodie, who played just shy of 30 minutes, including six minutes of penalty-kill time.
|Away||2||4:10||Jones goal SH||14||23||26||27||54||57||4||19||31||32||55||5v4|
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
SUM IT UP
The Flames head home with two points from California, which is never bad. They also showed that they cold weather the storm and get through some adversity, as they killed off a five-minute penalty in the second period and played the third period with just five blueliners.
Calgary improves to 9-13-4. They’ll fly home after Sunday’s father-son golf day. They’re back in action on Wednesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome when they host the Phoenix Coyotes. It’s an 8pm MT start and it’s a Sportsnet game.