Pic via PaulSh
The Blues are a very good hockey team. They a strong, tough, skilled, insanely deep on defence and they have two above average goaltenders. The Flames have Chris Breen, Reto Berra, and David Jones. So, I am sure that Flames fans weren’t expecting a lot from this game.
What the Flames faithful got in the last game before the Christmas break was a thrilling, combeack 4-3 Flames shootout win thanks to a tying marker that came with 4.2 seconds remaining in the third and a shootout winner from Joe Colborne.
This was the first game back from a five-game road trip that the Flames faired about as well as anyone could have hoped, losing frequently but competing . Their last game was a 4-3 afternoon loss to the Penguins in which the Flames played well but let’s face it, if they played that game 25 times, the Penguins probably win 24 times. In no uncertain terms, the Blues were a better club coming into tonight’s game but the Flames managed to scrape out a clutch victory and send the dome faithful home with a smile.
During the pre-game show on the radio, Pat Steinberg interviewed Patrik Berglund who said that the Blues were disappointed with their starts. Well, they had a pretty good start in this game.The Blues started off with pretty good pressure while old Reto Berra made an apperance and looked uncomfortable in the early moments.
The Flames earned an early power play that had had a surprisingly good amount of possession but was unable to capitalize. That was a pity because immediately following the failed power play, Giordano was the victim of a soft call and the Blues scored a nanosecond into their powerplay.
The Flames had another power play in the opening frame and once again had a ton of good pressure including a post hit by Giordano and a point blank chance from Lee Stempniak, whom is currently exhaling liquid nitrogen. The first ended with the Blues leading 11-8 in shots, the vast majority of which occurred in the first seven minutes of the period.
Early on in the middle frame, the Flames were able to control the play quite well and were able to draw a couple power plays.The Flames finally were able to connect on the man advantage in the second stanza with Jiri Hudler converting on a laser-beam of a pass from Mikael Backlund. Seeing Backlund on the PP makes my heart smile.
However, as good teams do, the Blues responded with two goals in 44 seconds, one from Jaden Schwartz and the other from former Oilers bust Magnus Paajarvi and it looked like that was all the much Blues would need offensively. The Blues completely took over the second and dominated play throughout the remainder of the period. The Blues outshot the Flames 22-13 after two including 19-5 at even strength.
The Flames started the third with a fair amount of push-back but failed to score on chances from David Jones (who has looked very bad lately) and Shane O’Brien (who is just bad). However, the trio of Backlund, Byron, and Cammalleri produced a very nice goal mid-way through the third. Byron, channeling John Stockton, swung a no-look pass to Cammalleri who put it past Halak.
In the final two minutes, Patrik Berglund took a penalty and the already effective Flames powerplay got another chance to bring the game even. The Flames pulled the goalie and Sean Monahan missed an absolute, no doubt, can’t miss, point blank, empty net, face-palmer of a chance that looked as it would have been the last chance for the Flames to tie it up. Then, Backlund won a faceoff and the puck found Giordano who slammed it home to tie the game.
In overtime, Matt Stajan was the recipient of a knee on knee collision from David Backes, and left the ice in a great deal of discomfort. That hit may earn Backes a phone call from Brendan Shanahan. Hopefully, the injury isn’t too serious and Stajan can use the Christmas break to heal up. This resulted in another powerplay in overtime but the Flames were unable to score. This sent the game to a shootout where Joe Colborne scored the only goal and Reto Berra improved his shootout record to 3-0, allowing just four goals on 17 attempts.
The game finished with the Blues out-shooting the Flames 35-29 but who cares? The Flames gutted out an improbable victory and climbed out of a two-goal hole in the third.
THE RED WARRIOR
This one is a bit tough because the Flames had a lot of good performances from a lot of different players in this one. Mark Giordano played 26 minutes of ice, five shots on net, and, most importantly, had the clutch game-winner in the dying seconds of the game. Reto Berra held strong for the Flames and didn’t give up that soft third period goal that Flames fans have become so accustomed to seeing.
I think I will go with Mikael Backlund who had another very strong game with two assists and six shots on net to go with it. Backlund’s play has been noticeably better the last few games and is finally starting to show poise and confidence in the offensive zone with the puck, something that was missing from his game in the first part of the season.
SUM IT UP
It looked as though this would be another game in which the Flames would lose a close game to a much better team but they found a way to keep the game close, erase the two goal deficit, tie the game late, and win it in a shootout because Reto Berra rules at them. Mikael Backlund continues to solidify his spot in the Flames top-six and looks as though he is finally returning to the form he reached at the end of last season.
The Flames are again a very injured team heading into the Christmas break with Wideman, Russell, Blair Jones, Glencross, and possibly Stajan all in sick bay. The Flames aren’t in action again until December 27th when the face the Edmonton Oilers.