Last season, the Calgary Flames got off to a nice start. Then Mark Giordano got hurt, the team became rudderless and plummeted, and even their impressive run at the end of the season couldn’t get them back into contention for anything.
This season? So far, so good.
The Flames bounced back from a disappointing game in Carolina and skated to a 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. It gives the Flames their 10th win of the season and a 10-6-2 record after 18 games. It took them 27 games to win 10 last year, so they’re off to an excellent start.
The Flames had a lot of oomph in their game in the first chunk of the opening frame. They had jump. They had pep. They put many pucks on Mike Smith. They generated quite a few chances on an early power-play opportunity, and opened the scoring with the Sven Baertschi-Josh Jooris-Paul Byron line buzzing around the Coyotes end. Baertschi fed Paul Byron, who beat Smith with a back-hander to make it 1-0. However, the lead would not last, as momentum shifted after the Coyotes killed off a second penalty and soon after scored off a Shane Doan shot off the rush to tie it up late in the period. The Flames held a lead in shots (10-7) and shot attempts (23-13), but the Coyotes held a face-off edge of 13-9. The Coyotes were really pressing late in the period.
There was action at all ends of the ice in the second. A linesman took a shot in the leg early in the period. Paul Byron gave Calgary the lead off a rush and a nifty feed from Sven Baertschi, making it 2-1. The lead widened to 3-1 when the Coyotes couldn’t cover or clear the initial shot from Curtis Glencross, allowing Sean Monahan to muscle his way into the goal-mouth and knock the loose puck past Smith. That lead did not last, though. Josh Jooris took a cross-checking minor after Kyle Chipchura knocked Sven Baertschi down in the defensive zone, leading to an Antoine Vermette one-timer goal off a great feed from Shane Doan that had Jonas Hiller all twisted up. Joe Vitale tied it up later in the period off a weird one; he chucked the puck on net and it beat Hiller between his arm and the post to make it 3-3. However, the Flames pushed back. With Curtis Glencross and Keith Yandle in the box for roughing and both teams skating four-per-side, Mark Giordano one-timed a shot from T.J. Brodie to make it 4-3. As with the first period, the Flames lead in shots (11-8) and shot attempts (20-18), but the Coyotes won more face-offs (14-8). Calgary out-scored them, though, and had a lead going to the final period.
As you’d expect given the score, it was a tight-checking third period, with the Flames pressing for an insurance marker and the Coyotes pressing for the equalizer. Mike Smith made two gorgeous saves mid-way through the period: the first stopping David Jones in the slot on an up-close rebound with a pad-stack, the second on a Paul Byron breakaway as #32 attempted to get a third goal. However, the Flames did finally land themselves an insurance marker, as David Jones intercepted a Mike Smith clearing attempt and hucked it at the net, where it bounced in off of defender Connor Murphy to make it 5-3. Arizona out-shot Calgary 8-4 and out-attempted them 21-18, but the Flames held a strong 13-5 face-off edge in the final period and held on the for the victory.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They found a way to control the third period and stifle the Coyotes. Arizona had more shots and at times more pressure, but the Flames ability to win draws and slow the game down really eliminated any built-up momentum for the visitors and allowed them to hold on for a close win.
The flu bug!
Sven Baertschi had the bug on the road trip and returned to the line-up with two assists and his best outing this season as a Flame. David Jones had the bug overnight and had a goal, an assist and a strong game overall.
If this keeps up, more players will be trying to catch the bug.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
SUM IT UP
The Flames have 10 wins, a 10-6-2 record and 22 points. Comparing to their record last season, they have 7 more points than they did after 18 games a year ago. They’re three points out of first overall and 14 points up on last-place Buffalo.
They’ll try to add to their totals on Saturday night when the Ottawa Senators make their way to the Scotiabank Saddledome. The puck drops at 8pm MT and you can catch all of the action on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.