Let’s be honest here: the Calgary Flames had a series of tailor-made excuses for losing tonight. They were on the road and they’re a horrid road team. They were facing Arizona and they were winless against them coming into tonight. And they were missing three regulars, including Johnny Gaudreau – their best player.
But with a roster chock full of youthful vim and vigor, the Flames instead played a pretty solid 60 minutes of hockey. They didn’t play perfect hockey – they took too many penalties, for instance – but they were good enough to beat the Arizona Coyotes tonight by a 5-2 score.
In a sign that this was going to be a night of surprises, the Flames got on the board early. Just under two minutes in, Sam Bennett scored his first goal since February 11 the old fashioned way – by going to the net. The rest of the period was a bit back and forth, but neither team was able to bury their chances. The Flames out-shot Arizona 6-5 and out-attempted them 17-12.
The Flames got into penalty trouble in the second, and it came back to harm them as they allowed goals on two of their three kills. And both goals were scored on pretty decent rapid-fire passing plays, ended by nice shots from Anthony Duclair – the goals were seven minutes apart and gave Arizona the lead. Just when you were probably thinking “Aw nuts, the Flames are gonna lose…” Bennett scored again off a feed from Joe Colborne (again, by going to the net) to tie the game. The Flames finally drew a penalty late and Sean Monahan scored 12 seconds into the power-play to give them a lead going into the final frame. Arizona out-shot Calgary 11-5 and out-attempted them 22-14.
The Flames spent a decent amount of time in their own end in the third, but aside from a really bad giveaway by Matt Stajan – and an attempt at the Kris Russell Starfish (TM) by Brett Kulak – that resulted in a nice save by Joni Ortio, the Coyotes didn’t get great chances and the Flames defended well. They went up 4-2 roughly halfway through the period off a nice steal in the neutral zone (on the power-play) by Hunter Shinarkuk that resulted in a couple quick passes and a T.J. Brodie goal. Colborne added an empty netter late to ice it at 5-2. Shots were 10-8 Calgary but attempts were even at 19-19.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames out-scored the Coyotes 2-0 at even-strength and were even on the special teams battle. Aside from taking too many penalties and not doing enough on their penalty kill to disrupt the Coyotes, the Flames were pretty good tonight.
And we all learned that when you put offensively-minded AHL call-ups with good linemates, they can actually generate offense. Shocker.
Let’s go with Sean Monahan, who had three points in the game without having Johnny Gaudreau by his side.
Aside from Monahan? Micheal Ferland, Bennett and Colborne all had multi-point games.
The Flames are off to try to finally break the Honda Center Curse on Wednesday night when they face the Anaheim Ducks.