(courtesy the NHL/NHL.com)
The Calgary Flames continued their eastern trek on Thursday night, visiting the New York Islanders in Uniondale, New York. Underneath the many Stanley Cup banners in the Nassau Coliseum, the Flames hoped to return to their winning ways.
And they did so. After a hard-fought, tight-checking 60 minutes of hockey, the Calgary Flames left Long Island with their 22nd win of the season.
And most importantly, it was the first regulation win in Reto Berra’s NHL career.
The first period was a bit herky-jerky in pace, but things picked up near the end of the period. The Flames pushed the pace a bit early on, generating three of the first four scoring chances. After that, though, through a combination of skill and a couple Flames penalties, the Islanders poured it on. Reto Berra was sharp, though, and the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes.
The middle frame was very similar to the first. Once again, Calgary took a penalty, but their kill on Joe Colborne’s minor seemed to give them some momentum. They poured it on, and they finally broke through via a Sean Monahan goal. Kris Russell flung the puck from the point towards a mass of bodies near the Islanders net, and the Flames 19-year-old rookie emerged from the pack and put the puck past Evgeni Nabokov. A few minutes later, on a Flames power-play, Dennis Wideman converted a sweet Mikael Backlund feed to give the Flames a temporary two-goal lead. I say temporary, because the Islanders stormed back and Thomas Hickey made it a one-goal game with a goal with just seven seconds left in the second. Gotta hate those late-period goals…
The Islanders had an early power-play in the first that the Flames killed. The Flames failed to capitalize on a power-play of their own, and the Isles took advantage of the momentum and tied the game, as their super-skilled top line set up Calvin de Haan for the game-tying goal. The remainder of the third period was a back and forth affair, until David Jones broke the deadlock with a weird goal. Basically, a point shot from the blueline got knocked towards the corner after hitting Nabokov in the shoulder. Matt Stajan collected the puck and flung it towards the net. Remember how Montreal’s first goal on Tuesday was a puck that bonked in off of a couple bodies? Well, David Jones was the last body this weird-angled shot bonked in off of. Thus, the Flames had a 3-2 lead. The Islanders could not capitalize on a Jiri Hudler penalty late and Mikael Backlund added an empty netter to give the Flames a 4-2 victory.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They played a very smart, even-keeled game on the road and three of their four lines continued to contribute here and there. Mikael Backlund was good again, especially distributing the puck on the power-play, and Reto Berra stood on his head in stretches.
Overall, a very similar game to what they did in Montreal, although they got more of the bounces and executed a bit better than on Tuesday.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Tempted to go with Backlund or Berra again, but give it up for Dennis Wideman. Wideman had a goal and an assist, and led the Flames with a plus-2 rating and four shots on net. A very good game for #6.
Honourable mention to Lance “Bruises” Bouma, who had four hits and four blocked shots.
SUM IT UP
The Flames (22-28-7) have won six of their last seven contests and are playing well. They finish off their pre-Olympics schedule on Saturday morning with an 11am MT game in the city that hosts this year’s NHL Draft, Philadelphia. Their tilt against the Flyers can be viewed on Sportsnet.
And you never know, it may be the last game in a Flames uniform for one or two players…