The Calgary Flames received zero help on the out-of-town scoreboard this evening. However, much as Pedro Cerrano (of Major League) proclaimed, they did it themselves.
The Flames weathered the storm against a very talented Colorado Avalanche team, scored early and help on for a 3-2 victory at home. The victory moves their record to 40-27-6 through 73 games and moves their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to 9.5 (versus the Los Angeles Kings, who won tonight).
Here’s how it happened at the ‘Dome tonight.
The Flames opened the scoring in a back-and-forth first period. Gabriel Landeskog grabbed his own rebound and attempted a wrap-around from behind the net. Karri Ramo DOVE across the crease and made a stick save. Lance Bouma grabbed the loose puck, went up the ice and fed David Jones for a one-timer to make it 1-0. The Avalanche tied up the game late in the period after a prolonged sequence of pressure, with Landeskog shooting the puck wide, the Flames completely scrambling around their own zone like some Timbiits looking for the puck, and Alex Tanguay tapping it into the open net to tie it. However, the Flames scored a late one, with Sean Monahan winning an offensive zone draw, feeding it back to Dennis Wideman for the one-timer. Wideman’s point shot hit Jiri Hudler out front to make it 2-1 with 16 seconds left in the period. Shots were 9-8 for the Avalanche in the first.
Nobody scored in the second period, but the Flames spent an awful lot of time in their own end. They had some chances here and there, including two or three really nice shifts for the Raymond/Stajan/Bollig line that resulted in scoring opportunities. But no dice. The Avalanche had several nice scoring opportunities in their lengthy, lengthy time in the Flames zone, but a combination of posts, puck luck and the unflappable Karri Ramo kept the game at 2-1 through 40 minutes. Shots were 10-8 in the second for Calgary, but that figure really, really flatters the hosts.
The teams exchanged goals in the third period. After another lengthy sequence in the Avalanche zone, David Jones collected the puck, entered the offensive zone and fired one wide. T.J. Brodie, one of several trailers on the play, entered the zone and kept the puck on-side with a point shot…that was tipped past Varlamov by Lance Bouma to make it 3-1. Gabriel Landeskog finally solved Karri Ramo late, scoring on a really nice cycling sequence by the Avalanche on the shift right after the goal. The Avalanche pressed and even pulled the goalie, but the Flames didn’t let the visitors tie it and the game finished as a 3-2 victory for the home side.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Karri Ramo was excellent.
The Flames gave up more than a few long looks to the Avalanche, including a handful of gorgeous sure-fire goal chances. But Ramo was sharp, and occasionally miraculous, allowing Calgary to win. The team basically white-knuckled it through a tumultuous second period, but they managed to hold on, primarily because Ramo was so sharp in the middle frame.
And they finally got some goal-scoring from beyond the top line, as the combination of Lance Bouma and David Jones continued to buzz, even with a new centerman between them.
Karri Ramo. 25 saves, and several of them were huge, particularly the diving stick save that was followed by the game’s first goal.
Also a stick-tap to the entire fourth line (Matt Stajan, Mason Raymond and Brandon Bollig), who Bob Hartley credited post-game for giving them momentum at the beginning of the third period. That line spent a lot of time in the offensive end and helped lighten the load a bit.
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SUM IT UP
The Flames, with 86 points, are off tomorrow for a recovery day. They’re back in action on Wednesday night at the Saddledome for a late game. They play at 8pm MT on Sportsnet West and host the Dallas Stars.
There are nine games remaining in the regular season. Per Sports Club Stats, the Flames end this evening with a 75.8% chance of qualifying for post-season play.