With three minutes left, everyone had an idea where the game was going. The Flames were down by a pair. The Devils were using their structured neutral zone play to negate Flames rushes.
The second straight regulation loss was looming.
But much like the logical devil on your shoulder has a counterpart, the Calgary Flames have built into their followers the belief that their club can battle back from any obstacle.
Down two goals with less than three minutes left? They pulled the goalie and scored twice, then won in a shootout against the New Jersey Devils. The final score was 5-4.
Consult your cardiologist at your discretion.
The first period began rather sleepily for both sides, with scoring chances being a rarity and the puck going from side to side like a teeter-totter. The Devils broke the deadlock, as Adam Henrique waltzed into the Flames zone and put a puck past Karri Ramo to make it 1-0 on the first shot of the game for New Jersey. Later on, the Devils extended their lead: Jaromir Jagr (who is quite good) was being chased around the zone by two defenders. Jagr found Mike Cammalleri at the side of the net with a gorgeous behind-the-back pass and one Cammalleri one-timer later, it was 2-0. The Flames had a few chances here and there, but couldn’t beat Scott Clemmenson and trailed after the opening frame. Shots were 12-8 Calgary, shot attempts were 20-17 Calgary, but the Devils held the face-off edge by a 12-10 margin.
The Flames had many chances early on, by way of a Mike Cammalleri penalty 25 seconds into the period. Devin Setoguchi missed a wide-open net, which may be a metaphor for his entire Flames tenure thus far. After half a period of pressing and pressing, Curtis Glencross held the puck in on an attempted Devils clearing pass and chucked it at the net. It hit the cross-bar and went in, cutting the Devils lead to a goal. However, Dennis Wideman took an interference penalty late in the period to negate a crucial Flames power-play, and on the ensuing Devils power-play after a brief stint of four-on-four, Travis Zajac scored – WITH SEVEN SECONDS LEFT IN THE PERIOD – to make it 3-1 for the visitors. Shots were 12-8 for Calgary in the middle frame, with the shot attempt edge tilting towards the Devils by a 22-17 margin. The Flames held the face-off edge 10-6, but trailed by a pair for the second straight period.
The Flames cut the Devils lead early in the third: with Michael Ryder off for interference, Josh Jooris potted a rebound for his 5th of the year to make it 3-2. Peter DeBoer’s club began clogging the neutral zone to counter the Flames’ speed and stretch passes, and it mostly worked. The Flames continued to press and got caught; Mark Giordano pinched and got caught and rushed back. Jacob Josefson shot the puck over the net, but Tuomo Ruutu scored off the rebound to stretch the lead to 4-2. But because this is the Calgary Flames, the game was not over. Jiri Hudler scored off a rebound with just over 2 minutes left to draw within one. The team pulled Karri Ramo and the gamble paid off: Curtis Glencross scored off a rebound scramble in front of Clemmenson to tie the game with 5 seconds left.
This freaking team.
Shots were 9-9 in the third. The Flames held an edge in shot attempts 17-13 and in face-offs 16-9 in the final frame of regulation.
Overtime was great. Lots of end-to-end chances. The Flames even drew a late period penalty, but couldn’t quite bury their chances. OT shots and shot attempts were even (4-4 and 6-6), with the Devils having a slight (3-2) face-off advantage.
Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler scored in the shootout (countering Mike Cammalleri’s notch for the visitors) and the Flames skated away with a 5-4 victory.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames weren’t wildly out-played in the first two periods, but they could’ve been better. Their execution was lacking, despite the fact that they hustled hard. The first half of the third was similar.
But their execution improved in the third period, and as the Devils were seemingly winding themselves down, the Flames stepped on the gas and managed to pull one out. When the pressure mounted, the Devils wilted and the Flames stepped it up.
At even-strength, the Flames out-shot the Devils 32-28 and each team scored three times. As much as I keep joking about PDO chickens coming home to roost, both teams were evenly benefiting from said chickens.
While I felt Karri Ramo was strong when he had to be – particularly late in the game to keep the team in it – you’ve gotta give it to Curtis Glencross. Seemingly snake-bit for much of the season, Glencross scored a pair of key goals – one to get the team on the board and the other to tie it – and was key in the team getting two points.
Also good tonight were Josh Jooris, Ramo and Jiri Hudler.
On the visitor’s side, it’s always a treat to watch Jaromir Jagr.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
SUM IT UP
Just when you think the game is over, the Calgary Flames surprise you and pull yet another rabbit out of their hat. At this point, they are hockey magicians.
They sit at 13-7-2 with 28 points after 22 games. They’re seventh overall.
The Flames are off for two days and head for their personal Hell on Earth next: Disneyland, as they play in Anaheim on Tuesday night.