After a road trip where they took just two of a possible eight points, I think it’s safe to say that the Calgary Flames really needed a win tonight. In front of a surprisingly boisterous Scotiabank Saddledome – given the opponent, day of week and weather – the Flames weren’t pretty at times, but they managed to skate to a 3-2 victory over the visiting New Jersey Devils.
Here’s how it happened.
Things didn’t look all that good early for the locals. They were hemmed in frequently in their own end and generally looked sub-par, but Karri Ramo was sharp and kept things scoreless. After a couple decent scoring chances – including Josh Jooris getting one off a no-look back-hand feed from Micheal Ferland – the Flames finally broke through. The top line tried to get something going in the offensive end, but finally T.J. Brodie accepted a pass and went for a skate around the zone, finally putting one past Cory Schneider short-side to make it 1-0. The Flames doubled their lead off a dump-in from David Jones; Joe Colborne pressured Schneider behind the net, prompting some fumbling by the Devils netminder and a tap-in goalmouth tally for Matt Stajan. Shots were 7-6 in the first for the Flames, but the Devils had a shot attempt edge (20-13).
Calgary’s iffy defensive zone play continued, with the fourth line getting hemmed in and then trapped off an icing call. Finally, after Mark Giordano saved a goal with a nice defensive play, the team’s inability to clear the zone allowed Bobby Farnham to capitalize on a scramble to make it 2-1. However, the Flames struck back right afterwards, with Stajan’s forecheck creating a turnover which Colborne grabbed and fed to the slot for David Jones for a one-timer goal (and his 100th career tally) to make it 3-1. But the Flames got dragged back into the muck once again, as with Micheal Ferland in the box for interference, Jordin Tootoo buried a nice one-timer feed from Lee Stempniak to make it 3-2 for the home side. Despite being out-scored in the period, the Flames held sway in shots (11-9) and shot attempts (19-13).
Nobody scored in the third period, though both teams had some good chances – mostly the Devils, to be honest. The visitors pushed early and then pushed late with an empty net, though the Flames had a few really strong shifts in the middle of the period. But overall, the Flames had the edge 12-5 in shots and 18-14 in attempts and managed to hold on for the victory.
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WHY THE FLAMES WON
Because they managed to score first, build up a lead and hold on for dear life for the rest of the game. They led after the first and second periods, and that should be a receipt for two points. Thankfully, the team managed to defend fairly intelligently in the final period, didn’t give the Devils a whole heck of a lot, and managed to ride out the final period for a victory.
That said, the shots totals – 30-20 for the home side – really flattered them in terms of actual good chances on net. They need to turn their zone time into scary scoring chances if they really want to put some fear into the opposition; a lot of their shots and shot attempts were perimeter attempts.
Because he scored his first goal of the season and doubled his season point totals, I’m going with Matt Stajan. He’s been rock-solid for the Flames as the anchor for the third line, and he was strong on the forecheck all game.
Stick-tap to Sean Monahan, who had an assist and won 72% of his face-offs, and to Joe Colborne for his pair of assists.
The Flames (7-12-1) are off for a couple days, and then they’re back in action on Friday night for a return engagement with the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.