The Carolina Hurricanes came into Calgary looking for their first win. Calgary was hoping for their first win at home. Carolina is playing with a depleted line-up. Calgary is relatively healthy.
Tonight’s game unfolded more or less as you’d hope it would. Calgary didn’t give the Hurricanes a kicking like they did Edmonton last March, but they played a responsible 60 minutes of hockey against a lesser opponent and out-played and out-classed the Hurricanes by a 5-0 score.
The Hurricanes remain the only NHL club without a win. Calgary creeps above .500 with a 5-3-1 record through 9 games.
Calgary controlled the flow of play early-on, but the period was fairly back and forth in terms of zone time. The Flames did a good job largely keeping the Hurricanes to the outside. After spending a lot of the period seemingly testing the Hurricanes defense. Finally, they scored late on a Dennis Wideman point shot. The goal was eventually credited to Wideman, giving him the same number of goals this season (4) as he did all last season. The Flames led in shots (10-4), shot attempts (21-9) and face-offs (10-9) in the opening period.
The second was much like the first, except the Flames pressed a bit more and were more willing to engage in the rush. Early on, Paul Byron (who’s been excellent) and Matt Stajan came in on a 2-on-1; Byron fed Stajan at the side of the net for a tap-in and a 2-0 lead 32 seconds into the second. A few minutes later, Joe Colborne, Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan worked the cycle to perfection down-low, with Monahan getting a tap-in for his first of the season. From there, the Flames largely went into the proverbial “shell,” dumping and chasing and basically being content to let Carolina tire themselves out trying to get into their zone. Again, the Flames led in shots (9-7), shot attempts (15-13) and face-offs (9-7).
The third period was much like the second – the Flames pressed early, expanded their lead, and then went into the shell again. Just over three minutes in, the Colborne/Hudler/Monahan trio struck again, as the puck squeaked out from behind the net for a Monahan deke to beat Cam Ward to make it 4-0. Finally, the Flames put the dagger into the Canes as Josh Jooris sped into the zone on the far wing and led Lance Bouma in the goalmouth for a quick deflection goal and a 5-0 lead. (It’s Jooris’ first assist.) Shosts were even at 5-5 in the third and Carolina led in shot attempts by a slight 16-11 margin, but the Flames continued to have an edge in the face-off circle (10-6) and won the game.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Well, they were better than Carolina. In almost every respect. It could’ve been even worse if Cam Ward wasn’t sharp early. But Calgary’s best players were better than Carolina’s best players – can somebody tell me if Alexander Semin was actually playing tonight? – and thus, Calgary gets a very one-sided win.
Joe Colborne won every single face-off he took, and set up two goals with strong play on the right side. The entire line of him, Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan were sharp, but I’ll give the nod to Colborne tonight.
Honourable mention to Paul Byron, who had two assists, as well.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
SUM IT UP
The Flames will take their two points tonight and enter tomorrow with a 5-3-1 record through the first 9 engagements, good for 11 points and sit 4th overall. Enjoy it while it lasts, because they’ve played more games than everybody else but Boston, and their underlying numbers are pretty lousy.
They’re back in action on Saturday night when they host the Washington Capitals. The puck drops at 8pm MT and the game will be broadcast on CBC as part of the weekly Hockey Night in Canada festivities.