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Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: The Curse Is Broken

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 Rundown

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.

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.

Red Warrior

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.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Stajan 68.0 50.0 0.725
Gaudreau 66.7 33.3 1.300
Ferland 62.1 66.7 0.650
Monahan 58.6 66.7 1.430
Brouwer 58.3 40.0 0.050
Bartkowski 56.5 0.0 0.150
Giordano 56.1 50.0 1.125
Tkachuk 56.0 57.1 1.075
Hamilton 55.8 44.4 0.625
Frolik 54.2 57.1 0.960
Backlund 54.2 57.1 0.985
Stone 51.6 25.0 0.075
Glass 50.0 50.0 0.075
Hamonic 50.0 62.5 0.075
Brodie 47.4 66.7 0.025
Versteeg 39.3 40.0 0.400
Lazar 36.0 33.3 -0.250
Bennett 29.2 20.0 -0.620
Smith 4.300
Lack n/a

Elsewhere

Adam Ruzicka had an assist and the game-winning goal as Sarnia beat Hamilton 6-5 in overtime.

 

Up Next

The Flames (2-1-0) stick around Southern California. They visit the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.