Coming off of a game in which the Sharks had approximately 6,987 shot attempts and didn’t score a single goal, it seemed fairly obvious that the Sharks would be fairly frustrated and looking to score a pile against a vastly inferior Flames lineup. Perhaps the Flames would put up a valiant fight, similar to the last meeting with the Sharks, and everyone would go home satisfied and altogether one step closer to Ekblad or Reinhart or whomever your heart desires.
YOU WOULD THINK THAT WOULDN’T YA, IDIOT?
Well, obviously this Flames team cannot be stopped. Backlund should be the captain of team Sweden and Giordano should be anchoring the top pairing in Sochi. Look for Sean Monahan to captain Canada in Korea also. I’m sorry, its just… it’s just been a little hard this season so forgive me for being irrationally proud of these loveable goofs.
The Flames beat the San Jose Sharks 4-1 and won their fourth straight game, the second of which against a top-tier opponent, and generally looked in control for the entire game. It was a very impressive, very solid victory and the Flames are doing a lot of things very well recently, the most important of which may be scoring goals (19 in their last five). Find out how they did it after the jump.
The Flames spent the majority of the early minutes trying to establish a forecheck and attempting to keep San Jose to the outside. The Sharks looked very sluggish in the first period and the Flames were able to get a lot of pucks towards San Jose backup netminder Alex Stalock.
At the nine minute mark of the first, Mikael Backlund, who rules, drove the net from the right wing and made a fantastic skill move, undressing Matt Irwin to get a shot on net. The rebound found Lee Stempniak who is apparently still allowed to score which is weird and he slid home his eighth of the season to put the Flames up 1-0. A minute later, the Flames went to the power-play when Joe Pavelski held Matt Stajan but the Flames were unable to capitalize.
The Flames played an extremely good first period and went into the room up 1-0 and outshooting the Sharks 12-8 and generally carrying the play. In the first, the official Flames twitter account even dabbled with some of the fancystats, citing Lee Stempiank’s perfect 100% Corsi for. I heard that upon reading this, Kent’s heart grew three sizes. So, good things all around.
At the three thirty eight mark of the second the Sharks were already out-shooting the Flames 4-1 and looked as though they were going to turn the tide back in their favour. But the Flames (and more specifically perhaps two deserving Olympians?!?) had other ideas. Mikael Backlund, who cannot do wrong, fired a shot wide of Stalock that ended up right on the tape of Giordano who put it home to make it 2-0.
For the balance of the remaining time in the second period, Karri Ramo was very solid for the Flames, keeping them up 2-0 despite the Flames being out-shot 13-8 in the period. His best save was off of a breakaway miss by the Sharks at the 7:24 mark of the period.
The third started badly for the Flames. The Flames had a defensive meltdown right out of the gates and someone named ‘Eriah Hayes’ ended a very long (160:36) shutout streak for the Sharks (their 104th shot) less than a minute into the period and the Sharks were only down by one. The very next shift, David Jones ran one off the post that could have quelled any chance of a comeback for the Sharks but alas, we were in for a wild third.
After scoring the early goal, the Sharks began to tilt the ice towards Ramo and it became clear rather quickly that if the Flames were going to win this game it would be in large part because Ramo would have held the fort. That is not to say that the Flames didn’t have their chances. Kris Russell and Mikael Backlund were both stopped cold by Stalock at the seven minute mark of the third, easily constituting his best saves of the night to that point.
After the Flames managed to calm things down midway through the third, on a seemingly harmless play and quite similar to the Backlund shot, Smid hammered a shot wide of the net, finding birthday boy Joe Colborne who flipped it to wunderkid Sean Monahan, batting it out of the air and past Stalock to make it 3-1. That is Monahan’s 15th of the season and ties Tomas Hertl, though Hertl has played a great deal fewer games.
Perhaps most improbably of all, Jiri Hudler scored A FRIGGEN EMPTY NET GOAL for the Flames, their first (!) of the season and unsurprisingly the last NHL team to score one. Good on ya hoodler. The Flames won 4-1 and out-shot the Sharks 30-28 overall.
THE RED WARRIOR
The Flames played a very solid game so it is tough to pick this one. I thought Stempniak had good jump in his legs and it was nice to see him pot one. Though I like what Stempniak brings, I think he will make another team very happy quite soon. Improving his trade value is another good reason to like him scoring. Obviously Giordano continued his very strong play with the game winning goal and 25 minutes plus of ice time. Backlund played exceptionally well again tonight registering two assists tonight, making that five points in his last three games. Hell, I think David Jones has looked pretty good these last few games as well.
However, I think the obvious and neccessary choice is Karri Ramo who only allowed one goal to a very talented (albeit seemingly cursed) Sharks squad and made 27 saves in the victory. That’s another quality start for Ramo who rebounded nicely from a rocky start in against Nashville where he was pulled. I believe that Ramo has certainly done enough to seperate himself from Berra as the clear-cut starter though Berra’s play over the last month or so has been decent as well.
SUM IT UP
The Flames genuinely deserved this victory, which is a remarkable statement in and of itself given the calibre of their opposition. Even thought the Sharks clearly were not on the top of their game (lately still stunned from last night’s 3-0 shutout loss to the OIlers) the Flames were largely able to dictate play and got some timely goals and saves. You know, the kinds of things that teams who win games normally do!
I know that this little winning streak is starting to make a lot of us a little uneasy about the prospect of dropping out of the top three in the draft order but at this point I would just say, relax. There is still plenty of season, and likely plenty of losses, still ahead in order to secure that coveted draft spot. Right now, enjoy the fact that if you paid money to see the Flames play tonight, you didn’t feel compelled to rip off your jersey and hurl it onto the ice.
The Flames win their 20th game of the season and improve to 20-27-7. five points up on 29th place Edmonton and nine points up on Buffalo (who also won tonight). Their game is on Saturday night on HNIC against the Minnesota Wild.