After an eventful Tuesday in the National Hockey League, the Calgary Flames are on the brink of returning to the post-season for the first time since 2009 (and for the first time in a full season since FlamesNation was launched).
Calgary entered tonight with a magic number of 3.5 on both Los Angeles and the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg beat St. Louis. But the Flames took care of their own business with a 3-2 win over Arizona, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicates. Oh, and then the Edmonton Oilers beat Los Angeles to help the Flames out in many, many ways.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) April 8, 2015
@NHLFlames You’re welcome… I guess.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) April 8, 2015
The Flames came out of the gates looking to make a statement in the first after their sluggish start in Edmonton. They out-hit, out-hustled and out-everythinged the Coyotes early. The only thing the visitors did more than Calgary was take penalties. That led to a bunch of strong scoring chances on Flames power-plays, which led to Johnny Gaudreau’s 23rd goal of the season and a 1-0 lead after the first period. Shots were 18-7 for the Flames after the first.
The second period was much more even, as the Coyotes played with much more desperation than they had in the first. Shots were 8-7 for Arizona, and B.J. Crombeen put one past Jonas Hiller to tie the game before period’s end.
The game was up for grabs in the final frame, and the Flames took it. David Jones scored early, bonking in a rebound past Mike Smith following a Michael Ferland shot to make it 2-1. A miscue in puck-handling by Hiller put one on a platter for Craig Cunningham, who scored on the gaping net to tie the game again. But the Flames refused to be denied, and Sean Monahan’s 31st goal of the year iced things mid-way through the period. Shots were 9-7 for Arizona in the third.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Well, they did more or less squander their strong start with some uneven defensive play and failed to match the Coyotes’ intensity in the middle part of the game, but they also maintained their resiliency and refused to faded away against the scrappy visitors.
Add in some strong offensive play by the team’s top line, and it’s enough for two points.
Let’s go with Dennis Wideman, who had a pair of assists and played a ton. But Monahan and Gaudreau were also both buzzing around the net quite a bit.
THE BAD NEWS
Lance Bouma left the game with an upper body injury. Hopefully he turns out to be okay, because the Flames will need his intensity against the Los Angeles Kings.
THE GOOD NEWS
When I began my tenure as FlamesNation managing editor, there were two old names I wanted to lure back. Well, mission accomplished, because the talented Pat Steinberg (of Sportsnet 960 The Fan fame) returns to the site tomorrow!
(For the record, the other is Vintage Flame, who is busy with his other endeavours, but always welcome ’round these parts.)
SUM IT UP
The Los Angeles Kings have 93 points and two games left, giving them a maximum of 97 potential points. The Calgary Flames have 95 points and two games left. They have a three regulation/overtime win lead over the Kings with two games left, so they merely need a tie in points to clinch. (The Kings loss to Edmonton ensured that the Flames and Kings cannot tie in ROW now.)
Their magic number is now one.
Any combination of two Flames points or two points lost by the Los Angeles Kings sends Calgary to the post-season.