After 29 regular season and playoff visits to Anaheim without a victory, the Calgary Flames have finally broken the Honda Center Curse. A rock-solid 60 minutes of hockey, predominantly based upon some decent structural play and some stellar goaltending from Mike Smith, resulted in a 2-0 shutout victory over the Anaheim Ducks and a pair of sorely-needed points in what’s sure to be a jam-packed Pacific Division standings.
The first and third periods saw major tests for the Flames’ penalty kill units, while the second period was probably their worst period in terms of five-on-five play.
The Ducks got a 59-second two man advantage and then took over much of the period from that point onward. They had pressure in fits and starts throughout the period, while the Flames seemed to get used to defending – and preventing Smith from having to make second saves on rebounds. The visitors did have some late pressure but couldn’t bury any of their chances. Shots were 10-9 Flames and scoring chances were 9-6 Flames.
After giving up chances to Calgary late in the first, the Ducks really took over the second. They couldn’t bury anything, though, and the Flames opened the scoring on a power play. A nice bit of passing from Kris Versteeg to Sean Monahan led to a one-timer tap-in from the slot for Monahan and a 1-0 Flames lead. Shots were 17-10 Anaheim and scoring chances were 9-5 Anaheim.
The Flames bumped their lead to 2-0 in the third, as Mikael Backlund scored off the rush with a nifty shot that beat John Gibson over the shoulder to tilt what was a pretty even period to that point. From there, the Ducks drew two late power plays but couldn’t score because of Smith’s performance. Shots were 17-9 Anaheim, scoring chances were 10-6 Flames.
Why The Flames Won
It was primarily because of Jobu, Pedro Cerrano’s voodoo totem from Major League.
“Jobu made an appearance tonight.” – Glen Gulutzan starting off his media address with a nod to the new guy in the room pic.twitter.com/XiXpI74VYL
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) October 10, 2017
Plus, good goaltending and a team that seems to be more and more comfortable playing the puck in their own end. Aside from one or two cringe-worthy passes from veteran players, the defensive zone was pretty solid tonight. When they had the puck up the ice, the Flames did enough in the second and third periods to open up the Ducks’ coverage and get scoring chances.
43 saves? It’s gotta be Smith. But the 3M Line and the Stajan line had some nice looks tonight. Truth be told, for the second consecutive game nobody looked bad.
The Turning Point
Up until Backlund scored, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Flames would somehow mess up and lose this game somehow. A two-goal cushion in the third period relaxed a lot of onlookers.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
Adam Ruzicka had an assist and the game-winning goal as Sarnia beat Hamilton 6-5 in overtime.
The Flames (2-1-0) stick around Southern California. They visit the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.