Two months ago the Flames got on a pretty decent roll despite a boatload of injuries and the whole hockey world doubting them. Then, players came back from injury and just like that the magic was gone, and the team starting losing.
Tonight, the injury depleted Flames found a way to win again, their 5th straight win a huge 4-1 victory over the Coyotes.
Will the suffer the same fate when the get healthy again?
On The Line
Such a big string of games for the Flames. A tough game against Phoenix tonight and then two games on the weekend against teams they “should” beat. Win tonight and two more on the weekend and the team is well on their way to the 93 points they need to finish the season in a playoff spot (they’d essentially need to finish .500 should that happen). Bottom line the team has to keep winning because every other team in the race continues to rack up points.
Can’t pick a better start than that! Flames rookie Sven Baertschi intercepts an errand pass in the Yotes zone and burries his third just 17 seconds into the first frame. Phoenix settles in after that and takes it to the Flames for a few minutes before the Flames themselves chill out and period finds its rhythm. Calgary scores a goal that is disallowed justly but for the wrong reason; they call it a high stick but the net was off. Both teams gas a powerplay opportunity leaving the score 1-0 Flames after 20.
The Flames actually had a good second against the Sharks on Tuesday night and they follow it up tonight with a solid first five minutes of action in the second, taking the play to the Coyotes including a nice pass by Baertschi into the blue paint for Nemisz. The Flames are rewarded when Iginla takes a sheet wide pass and wires a short side wrister by Smith. Jokinen comes close right after but is foiled by Smith and the teams settle into a low shot, low scoring chance middle period. a chipped out puck was disaster for the Flames in the late going when Jokinen’s line got caught up the ice and Ekman-Larson punched the puck behind Kiprusoff to make the score 2-1. Not to be deterred the Flames bounce right back with a quick Matt Stajan goal and just like that the two goal lead is restored; a huge goal for the Flames.
The expected third period push comes from Phoenix in the third. The Flames manage to kill off Jokinen’s late 2nd period penalty, but the Coyotes keep coming after racking up a 10-0 shot crank in the first five minutes of the final period. The Flames finally settle down and push the puck into the visitor’s zone more frequently churning up more minutes. The Flames add a key insurance goal with 5 to play when Alex Tanguay scores shorthanded (may have been offside) to put things essentially away.
- Mark Giordano: Has played his best hockey since returning from a long mid season injury in his last two games. Great in his own zone, picked up an assist and made a huge shot block in the third period to preserve the win.
- Miikka Kiprusoff: Simply huge early in the third when his team needed him against a massive push from the Coyotes; attempting to eradicate a two goal Flame lead.
- Jarome Iginla: Had his foibles in his own zone, and made a brutal attempt to keep the puck in on a third period powerplay, but scored the game winner and had other chances. Continues to roll.
With his team somewhat on the ropes in the second period Smith slides across the crease and stones Olli Jokinen after David Moss set up his centerman. Big save and big time of the game.
Mark Giordano simply stapled Rusty Klesla when the big dman took the puck across the Flames line in the first period sending Klesla to the bench looking winded and shaken up. He did return in the game.
Thought Olli Jokinen had a tough game … lost the puck off his stick on numerous times and took what could have been two costly penalties when the game was tight.
Matt Stajan. Just continues to roll, adding a goal tonight for points in five straight games since moving up the roster and finding his long lost mojo.
Odds and Ends
Just kills me how many times you see the guys least likely to succeed get the big chances. How many times have we seen Hannan or Sarich set up point blank in the last two weeks? Coincidence? Or do teams leave these guys open to those shots because they know they are unlikely to score? … Past two home games has seen Olli Jokinen handling the puck like a hand grenade again; very off for this season at least. Almost have to wonder if the guy just cares so much that now that the club is in a tight race he’s pressing. … Interesting to note that both Baertschi and Iginla have scored in each of the past three games; would be nice if the rook can pitch in next season and help the captain out. Speaking of Baertschi, quite a ride and a great story, but what I like the most is how the kid has that Brett Hull sense to find open ice and arrive at the right time. His first two goals were grabbing rebounds, his third all anticipation of the play. His interview after one period where he talked about where the defenseman was looking was almost goose bump worthy. Don’t even get me started on his diving backcheck. .. How does a team end up with a Daymond Langkow and a David Schlemcoe? … Avalanche lose in a shoot out to New Jersey, so they continue to add points, while things were worse in San Jose when the Sharks came from behind and won in a shoot out … . Iginla’s goal was his 515th of his career as he reels in Pierre Turgeon and moves into 35th place all time. Kiprusoff’s win gives him 309 and a share of 22nd all time with fellow active goaltender and former battery mate Evgeni Nabokov of the Islanders.
Lines (To Start):
Tanguay – Stajan – Iginla
Glencross – Jokinen – Moss
Kostopolous – Nemisz – Baertschi
Comeau- Horak – Desbiens
Bouwmeester – Sarich
Giordano – Hannan
Babchuk – Smith