Back in 2004, Ville Nieminen coined a term – “hospital hockey.” It referred to low-event, low-pace games were each team basically tried to wait each other out. It was in many ways a throwback night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, as the Flames came out of the gate flat, gave up a goal and then had to wait for their chance to claw back in.
They succeeded, and skated away with a 3-1 victory over the NHL’s cellar-dweller, evening their home ice record at .500 (16-16-3).
It was a low-event first period. Very low event.
After 7 minutes of “action” we have a second whistle and one shot on goal. #Flames and Sabres delivering as advertised so far.
— Randy Sportak (@SUNRandySportak) March 19, 2014
So…remember one shot through the first seven minutes? Up to three shots through the first 10:29. Total. Both teams. #Flames
— Aaron Vickers (@AAVickers) March 19, 2014
Unfortunately for the Flames, the fifth shot of the game went in. Ben Hanowski attempted to reverse the puck behind own net, unwittingly setting up Drew Stafford for a wrap-around goal. The Flames went into the intermission down by one, despite leading in shots (6-4), attempts (13-12) and face-offs (8-7).
The middle frame was another low-event one, although the Flames executed much more than they did in the second, where every pass hit a skate or a pad. After a back-and-forth period of broken plays, the Flames scored. T.J. Brodie took a shot and a crowd of both teams formed around the rebound – Sean Monahan and Joe Colborne got wacks at the puck, Colborne’s went in to put the Flames even at 1-1. Shots were 11-5 Flames, attempts were 24-11 Flames and face-offs were even at 10-apiece.
The final frame was also rather deliberately paced, but the Flames dictated the flow of the game and were much more effective at moving the puck than in prior periods. They went up 2-1 on a nice simple play: Mikael Backlund won a face-off, and fed it back to Chris Butler. Mike Cammalleri went to the net, where a Sabres defender had position on him but failed to tie up his stick. Butler’s shot was then tipped for Cammalleri’s 20th goal of the season.
Cammalleri is heating up just in time for the April 3 NHL trade deadline. Except that was the date of the trade deadline LAST YEAR.
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenHaynes_CP) March 19, 2014
And because it’s a Calgary Flames home game, it wouldn’t be complete without a short-handed goal. Paul Byron complied, racing down the ice after Chris Butler forced a turn-over and beating Nathan Lieuwen five-hole to make it 3-1 for the home side. That’s all she wrote. Calgary led in shots 9-5 in the third, but the Sabres had a slight edge in attempts (15-14) and a massive edge in face-offs (13-3).
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Despite some rough puck luck early, the Flames managed to ride out the storm, make some adjustments and execute better in the third period. They played the third like they knew they were the better hockey club, and ultimately, they were.
Keeping the Sabres to just 14 shots on goal was also a really smart move.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Ex-Sabre Paul Byron was +2 and had a nifty short-handed goal that served as a back-breaker for the visitors. Byron’s been excellent this year.
Honourable mentions to Chris Butler (two assists) and Matt Stajan.
SUM IT UP
The Flames (28-34-7) get a day off, then it’s back-to-backs on Friday at home against Nashville and on Saturday in Edmonton against them Oilers. Nashville’s just 5 points up on Calgary as of this writing, while the Edmonton Oilers are not a particularly good hockey team (to be charitable) or are a garbage fire (to be mean).
But I expect this Flames hockey club to bring the same level of emotion to these games as they have the previous 69, because they haven’t really let up so far.