The Flames Keep Pulling Rabbits Out Of Their Hat

Three nights ago in Dallas, the Calgary Flames were wildly out-shot for most of the game. Yet, the Flames found a way to keep the game close, and then found a way to win.

It’s another in a series of games where the Flames weren’t well-positioned to win, yet pulled a rabbit out of their hat and got some points out of it.

For the curious, here are the games I’ve identified as instances where the Flames have managed to pull rabbits out when they needed to do so. These aren’t including instances where the Flames got offense from odd sources – say hello, Deryk Engelland’s pair of goals against Dallas, David Schlemko’s shootout heroics and/or Josh Jooris’ hat trick – merely games when the team somehow pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.

OCTOBER 15: FLAMES BEAT CHICAGO 2-1 IN OT

It was Game 5 of the season. The Flames were visiting Chicago as part of their first big, scary road trip of the season. Chicago who are a big scary team. The Flames pulled out their first miracle of the season – a case can be made for Game 2 in Edmonton, but Edmonton just sucked in the third period and Calgary arguably out-played them. Jonas Hiller faced 50 shots. He allowed zero even-strength goals. The Flames blew a late-game lead via a penalty (and ensuing Hawks power-play), but Mikael Backlund scored in overtime to win it.

Without Jonas Hiller, it really should’ve been a one-sided Blackhawks butt-kicking.

NOVEMBER 4: FLAMES BEAT WASHINGTON 4-3 IN OT

It was Game 14. The Flames were beginning to feel good about themselves. They went into Washington and engaged in an absolute track meet with the Capitals. The Capitals out-shot Calgary 34-23. And the Flames scored first, then blew a lead, then tied it late. Braden Holtby just couldn’t quite shut the door, particularly late, and a Markus Granlund goal with a few minutes left sent them to overtime.

Jonas Hiller was good, once again, but the Flames simply refused to get disheartened when they couldn’t hold a lead and just kept coming.

NOVEMBER 18: FLAMES BEAT ANAHEIM 3-2 IN A SHOOTOUT

Game 20. The Flames spot the Ducks two goals by the mid-way point of the game, then turn it on, scoring three times in the third to take a 3-2 lead, then blowing that lead via a power-play goal by the Ducks’ Kyle Palmieri. Sean Monahan ended up scoring the winner in a shootout. The Flames got out-shot 27-19, but Jonas Hiller was sharp (again) and they managed to eke out two points.

NOVEMBER 26: FLAMES BEAT SAN JOSE 2-0

The Sharks out-shot Calgary in every single period of this game. Overall, shots were 32-19 for the Sharks. But Karri Ramo was really strong, allowing zero goals, and they got a road victory against a divisional opponent in a game where their goalie kept them in it.

DECEMBER 22: FLAMES BEAT LOS ANGELES 4-3 IN OVERTIME

In the last game before the Christmas break, the Flames got out-shot 34-28 (actually out-shooting the Kings in the third period and overtime). The Flames were down 3-0 late in the second, but Gaudreau broke the Jonathan Quick shutout bid late in the second. Then he scored twice more in the third to force overtime – completing his first career hat trick – and Mark Giordano scored in overtime to win.

Jonas Hiller was in net. He wasn’t amazing through two periods, but he was very sharp in the third as the Flames pressed for the tie.

DECEMBER 29: FLAMES BEAT LOS ANGELES 2-1

In a rematch from that prior game, where the Kings really let a point slip away, the Flames got a two-goal lead in the first period. The Kings out-shot them 27-15 over 60 minutes, but only beat Jonas Hiller once. You could argue that the Kings played the more complete game. And you probably would’ve been right.

But the Flames got two points and the Kings got zero, primarily because Hiller was good at the Flames managed to spot themselves an early lead.

JANUARY 10: FLAMES BEAT VANCOUVER 1-0

The Flames, playing their second game in as many nights, throw rookie Joni Ortio in net against their bitter rivals. It results in a 36-save heist of two points, with the Flames getting out-shot in each of the first two periods (28-14) but scoring early and holding onto the lead for the better part of 54 minutes of play.

JANUARY 19: FLAMES BEAT KINGS 2-1 IN OT

The Kings out-shot the Flames significantly over the first 40 minutes – 27-9 – in an effort to beat rookie sensation Joni Ortio. They finally do break through mid-way in the third, which prompts the Flames to flurry back with shots of their own and slightly edge the Kings in third period shots (10-6) en route to Sean Monahan’s tying goal. Dennis Wideman scores in the final minute of overtime for the extra point.

And yes, I do find it rather fitting that given the tight playoff race, the Kings appear on this list three times.

MARCH 3: FLAMES BEAT PHILADELPHIA 3-2 IN OT

The Flames spotted themselves a 2-0 lead by early in the second period, but ended up getting out-shot 27-12 over the final 40 minutes of regulation time blowing the lead. However, Karri Ramo kept the game tied through the second half of the third and Jiri Hudler scored to garner them the extra point.

MARCH 6: FLAMES BEAT DETROIT 5-2

The Flames got significantly out-shot in each of the first two periods. They gave up the first two goals to a good team on the road. Then, despite this handicap, they scored five unanswered goals – in the second of back-to-back road games – to win. Jonas Hiller made 33 saves.

MARCH 8: FLAMES LOSE TO OTTAWA 5-4 IN A SHOOTOUT

The Flames went down 4-0 through the first 28 minutes of this game. Then they scored four times in the third to force extra time and ended up getting a point. The game itself was a bit of a track meet, with the Flames getting out-shot through the first two periods and then turning on the offense for the final frame. Jonas Hiller made 19 saves in relief for the decision.

MARCH 30: FLAMES BEAT DALLAS 5-3

The most recent example, on the road in Dallas in the second game of a back-to-back, the Flames were out-shot significantly in the first and third periods. The good news was that (a) they out-shot Dallas in the second, (b) they out-scored Dallas 3-0 in the second and (c) Jonas Hiller was really sharp late in the game to keep them up by a goal.

  • Sanintarious

    Another fun one was the December.4 game vs. Colorado. Going down 2-1 after scoring first, Glencross ties it mid way in the third only to have Tanguay score an absolute beauty with less then 5 mins to go. Wideman would tie it up with a min and a bit to go and give Monahan the OT winner.

    At that time of the year it seemed like the Flames were constantly scoring late game tying goals!

  • Sanintarious

    A dozen reasons why the Flames season has been an exciting one, in addition to emerging talents like Johnny, Mony, and Bouma and valuable contributions by the vets!

  • Mort

    How do you not include the Nov. 22 game against the Devils? Trailing 2-4 in the 3rd, and Hudler scores with two and a half minutes to go. Then, with 5 seconds left, GlenX scored to tie it up, and we later won it in the shootout.

  • Mort

    Definitely missing BOTH Boston games.

    The first one where we came back from an 0-3 deficit to win on that TJ Brodie prayer in OT with only a second left to go? Friggin amazing.

    The second one where they came back to tie it and sent it to OT and then a long shootout that ended up being decided by David Schlemko? Like, WHOAAAAAAAAA!

    Another one missing is the road win over Florida. We were trailing 2-0 to start the game, and then we made it 2-1 but then they made it 3-1… we won that game 6-4!