How many times have we seen the Calgary Flames “play down” to their opposition and make life more difficult for themselves? Tonight, the Flames out-played the Colorado Avalanche – a non-playoff team in the Central Division – thoroughly for two periods and then solidly for the final frame en route to a rarity: a 4-0 road shutout victory.
It’s the team’s first shutout of the season and a game that the team won despite Johnny Gaudreau not showing up anywhere on the scoresheet. Jarome Iginla remains at 599 career goals, while the Flames are back at .500.
The Flames were buzzing around a lot in the first period, generating chances but not getting rewarded early – they got chances at the center of the ice, but they kept the Avalanche largely to the outside. They finally broke through on the power-play. With Micheal Ferland out front, the Flames iniital shock careened off some ankles and went wide…right to Dougie Hamilton, who buried the eventual game-winner to make it 1-0. Shots were 12-10 for Colorado, while attempts were 19-18 for Calgary.
Calgary broke the game open in the second by doing what they did in the first: going to the net and redirecting pucks. Josh Jooris tipped in a Mark Giordano point-shot mid-way through the period to make it 2-0. Matt Stajan tipped in a Dennis Wideman shot from the high slot a few minutes later to make it 3-0. Mikael Backlund buried a really nice feed from Ferland a few minutes after that to make it 4-0. The fourth goal chased Semyon Varlamov and brought back-up Calvin Pickard into the game. Shots were 13-12 Colorado (largely from the outside) and attempts were 24-17 for them as well.
The third period was supression hockey by the visitors. You’d expect Colorado to push back due to score effect. You would be wrong, as the Flames out-shot Colorado 12-1 and out-attempted them 22-8. The Avalanche had a couple decent chances but the Flames largely minimized them and coasted to victory.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames played probably their best structural defensive game of the season. They never really got hemmed into their own end, and they did their best to minimize high-danger scoring chances. Outside of a single sequence where Wideman and Russell stared in awe at Iginla’s stick-handling, the Flames were never really in big trouble.
Oh, and despite Johnny Gaudreau not scoring at all, they won because they got an explosion of secondary scoring. And a power-play goal. Either of those occurrences would’ve been noteworthy, but both in one game is like seeing a unicorn these days.
Josh Jooris! The winger finally slotted back into the line-up and was a huge factor, scoring a goal and setting up another one in 13:54, and he also won 80% of his face-offs.
Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland were also really good tonight. Hamilton was active in the rush all night long, while Ferland created havoc on the Flames power-play out front of the Colorado net.
The Flames return home and begin a four-game home-stand on Tuesday night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.