It was a busy, busy day in Flamesville, with firings, demotions and all manner of eventful proceedings. There was also a hockey game, as the Flames (11-15-4) hosted the Carolina Hurricanes (13-13-6), best remembered as the Hartford Whalers.
While the media types may be wringing their hands over the end of Jay Feaster’s tenure, the Calgary Flames still have 52 games left to play in 2013-14 NHL season. Tonight was Game 31.
Both teams seemed to engaging in a feeling-out process throughout the first period. The play was about even, with each club getting some significant zone time in stretches. The Hurricanes owned the first chunk of the game, inducing Matt Stajan to take a hooking penalty. (The Flames killed it off.) Late in the period, the Flames hemmed the Canes in their own zone for roughly two minutes, including a full line change. Overall, neither team generated many ten-bell scoring opportunities but neither did they look bad. Carolina led the Flames in shots (10-9), shot attempts (22-14) and face-off wins (9-4), but the period was deadlocked at no score after 20.
The second stanza was a tad more spirited, with both sides playing a more up-tempo style but not generating a heck of a lot of great scoring chances. The Flames seemed to have more spring in their step and generally pushed the pace more than Carolina, but for the most part Calgary couldn’t convert. After an offensive flurry late in the period, the Flames had a scare as a Carolina player rang the puck off both posts. Calgary didn’t get rattled, though, and generated the first goal of the game. Lance Bouma separated the defender from the puck and fed Brian McGrattan at the face-off dot, who put it past Justin Peters for his first of the year. Calgary led in shots in the second by an 11-4 margin, in shot attempts 19-14 and face-offs were even at 7-7.
The final period of regulation was more or less the same in terms of pace and event-level, with the Hurricanes pushing back a little bit more than they had in the first 40 minutes. Jeff Skinner knotted the game up mid-way through the third with a relatively weak goal (compared to what Ramo stopped) stick-side. The Flames nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of the regulation point when Ladislav Smid got called for water-skiing behind Jeff Skinner on a partial breakaway, but Karri Ramo stood tall on the penalty shot.
Overtime was another back and forth period. And in a night with offense from unexpected sources, Chris Butler scored his second of the year with just 3.6 seconds left to secure the win.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They made the Carolina Hurricanes play a Flames game, rather than a Hurricanes game. Tonight’s game was generally low-event, played on the outside and featured very few amazing scoring plays. In short: when your club is a lunch-bucket group that just saw its GM get axed, this is exactly the type of game you’d want them to play.
Then again, their lack of killer instinct in the first 40 minutes made their predictable third period collapse possible, so I guess you could say they were their own worst enemy in some ways.
#Flames have blown a lead in the third period in three straight games and eight of their last 12 outings.
— Randy Sportak (@SUNRandySportak) December 13, 2013
Paul Byron, on a day where his boss talked about his team needing more size and truculence, had two assists. That’s a great way to start off the "new era."
SUM IT UP
Calgary improves to 12-15-4. They are now off for a road trip to the East Coast. Their first stop is a Saturday matinee with the Buffalo Sabres, starting off at noon.
Only 51 more games remain.