(photo courtesy Mashable.com)
It was Western Night at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night. It was celebrated with a cowboy hat giveaway and Paul Brandt.
Oh, and a home win. (Yes, another one.)
After being not that good at all at home, the Calgary Flames won their fifth straight game (and fifth at home) over the visiting Minnesota Wild in overtime by a 4-3 score. It was, in many ways, an old fashioned Wild West shootout.
And rather randomly, Kris Russell was a late scratch in favour of Chris Breen due to an upper-body issue.
The first period was rather even, with both squads getting some sustained pressure but neither side dominating. Calgary has slightly more shots at 7-6, but also were a bit more opportunistic and got the lead mid-way through the first. T.J. Galiardi, recently demoted to the 4th line with the return of Mike Cammalleri, scored just his second goal of the season. Twas a bit of an odd goal, created by a nice feed from Kevin Westgarth. In less fun news, de facto Flames number-one goalie Karri Ramo left the game late in the first with an apparent lower body injury.
Perhaps bolstered by Ramo’s exit or their own strong play, but the Flames wildly out-chanced and out-worked the Wld in the middle period. They out-shot the Wild by a gigantic 18-4 margin. They blew their tenuous 1-0 lead via a Matt Cooke short-handed laser-beam, but regained the lead soon after as Dennis Wideman scored, redirecting a Chris Butler shot from the point – Galiardi also got an assist – just after a Wild penalty expired.
The Flames began the third killing a penalty, as Lance Bouma got nabbed for hooking seconds into the period. That penalty was followed by Mikael Backlund’s 12th goal of the season (a shortie), giving the Flames a 3-1 lead via driving the net on a rebound on a short-handed 3-on-1. After that, the Wild began pressing. And pressing. And pressing. They dominated shots in the period by a 12-4 margin. Just when Flames fandom was thinking "Hey, will Reto Berra actually get a regulation win?", the hockey gods laughed and said "No!"
The Wild pulled within one on the power-play via a Dany Heatley marker. Then, with just over 4 minutes left, the Wild tied things up at 3-3 via a Keith Ballard shot and some contact between Heatley and Reto Berra. The Flames were unable to regain the lead, and so we went onwards to overtime.
And in overtime, Reto Berra’s wacky extra-time record continued. Just a couple minutes into overtime, Mikael Backlund scored his second of the game (and fifth in the last six games) to ice things for the Flames.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They were generally better than the Wild five-on-five, generated a lot more shots on net (by a 32-23 margin) and survived some scares, such as blowing a two-goal lead in the third period. They probably won’t win games by relying on skill – and they didn’t tonight against Minnesota – but they win by bringing their working boots, and that was the case again tonight.
Also worth noting: in every game since the fights at Rogers Arena, the Flames out-hit their opposition. They also won the shot-blocking battle.
It’s tempting to give to Backlund again, but let’s go with Mark Giordano. Gio played 28:50, leading the Flames, and also had two assists and six shots on net.
Honourable mention to Reto Berra, who came into the game in relief and still does not have a regulation win in his National Hockey League career. He’s won 7 times – 4 times in the shootout and 3 times in overtime. Weird.
SUM IT UP
The Flames have won five in a row! That’s their longest winning streak since March 6-15, 2012. The boys get tomorrow off to revel in their strong effort (and result), eat nachos and watch the SuperBowl. They’re on the road until the Olympic break, starting a three-game road trip off on Tuesday night at Bell Centre in Montreal for a tilt with the Canadiens. Always a fun team to play against.
Five in a row! How about that?