(Sergei Belski – USA Today Sports)
The Calgary Flames came into tonight’s game with a golden opportunity. They hosted the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that’s not particularly deep or particularly good, and who were both (a) in the midst of a five-game skid and (b) forced to start their back-up due to an illness to Steve Mason.
Was there going to be a better time for the Flames to pick up two points? Nope.
And they did it, playing a poised, composed and strangely mature (for these guys) 2-1 overtime victory.
The Flames did something they haven’t done a lot of this season: they struck first. Josh Jooris took a penalty, and the Flames did a good job of killing it. An errant Flyers pass into the neutral zone coincided with Jooris stepping out of the box, leading to a breakaway chance. Michal Neuvirth made the initial stop, but Mikael Backlund passed the rebound back out front to set up Jooris for a spin-around goal to make it 1-0. That was the difference in a relatively quiet, pretty even first period, as both teams seemed content to feel each other out. Shots were 8-8.
The locals probably deserved better than they got in the second. They generated a bit more than Philadephia but couldn’t bury their chances, and they continue to not be good on the power-play – not capitalizing on a too many men call on the visitors. And after playing a pretty solid second period, the Flyers scored late – off a Michael Raffl shot – to send it to the locker rooms all tied up. This is something the Flames have done a lot this season and many fans probably felt nervous, as this has been an element in games they’ve lost many times this season. Shots were 10-9 Calgary.
Nobody scored in the third, while the Flames generated slightly more chances than Philadelphia. We went to overtime and after Karri Ramo made a sharp save on an early Flyers chance, the Flames went the other way and Johnny Gaudreau’s initial chance got potted home by Backlund for a 2-1 overtime win.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Well, they were better than the Flyers. They didn’t give up a ton and they kept at it even when they weren’t burying their chances. The game wasn’t perfect, but for a team that needs confidence and things to build upon, the Flames got what they needed tonight.
Mikael Backlund had the game-winning goal, set up the game-opening goal, and generally was good all over the place.
And hey, Karri Ramo was Calgary’s best penalty-killer, making 4 saves on the PK and 22 overall on the night.
The Flames (4-9-1) host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.