The Flames once again are finding a way; a huge variable for a team looking to turn their last 14 games into 20 points and a playoff spot.
Their scoring has returned in force at a time when perhaps their season long saviour Miikka Kiprusoff needs some help; as the savvy veteran seems to be fighting the puck. Like games against Montreal and Winnipeg at home, the Flames found heaping servings of adversity, but also 2 points in a 4-3 scramble in Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.
The result? Back into 8th place in the West with 13 games left to play on their schedule. Fun!
On The Line
The Flames have found a way to win games again, after a terrible home stand 10 days ago where they could do everything but. The Wild have been taking on water since later November and are all but out of the race in the West so the Flames were put to task in putting a stake through a team they should beat.
Very odd game. The Flames were money in the first period catching their hosts flat footed and essentially useless as they marched to a dominant first period that ended with a 1-0 lead and a 12-5 edge in shots on goal. The marksman? Jarome Iginla on a great pass from Alex Tanguay off of a forced turnover by Matt “I’m Back!” Stajan
I won’t fault the Flames for the second though it was dreadfully boring. The Wild mounted no counter, and the Flames were happy as the road squad to just let the 20 minutes elapse as neither team did a damn thing to push the envelope. The result? A continued 1-0 lead for the visitors heading to the final period.
The third period was a shot of jumper cables to a morose corpse. First the Flames go up by two when Sven Bartschi tipped a Derek Smith point shot into Hackett, and the corralled his rebound and beat the goaltender high. Two goal lead for the Flames, and the Swiss prospect has his first NHL goal and point. Game over right? Nope. Christensen for the Wild went to work. First he beats Kiprusoff with a softie through the pads right after the Bartschi goal, and later he finds a loose puck in the slot to tie things up. Yikes. A fortuitous bounce in the slot gave Curtis Glencross his 7th straight game with a goal, then Olli Jokinen took the puck from Moss to put the Flames back up by two. They needed the insurance as the Wild scored again with a minute left. The Flames held on.
1. Curtis Glencross: Third period goal and an assist as the former chuckwagon hand continues to prove he’s a valuable member of the Flames top six.
2. Eric Christensen: Back to back goals in the third period to bring his team even and set up a “wild” finish.
3. Jarome Iginla: Easy empty netter for his goal, and an odd flying whoops on his assist but two points is two points and the captain continues to contribute.
This one wasn’t a great game for goaltenders, but Hackett was sharp when he stoned Flames farmhand Kris Kolanos with an attempted backhanded stuff in the third period.
Cory Sarich was at his snarly best when he planted Jed Ortmeyer on his tushy as the Wild forward tried to encroach on Mikka Kiprusoff’s territory.
Hate to say it but Miikka Kiprusoff. The Flamaes MVP gave momentum to the Wild with the flimsy Christensen goal through his pads seconds after Bartschi put the Flames up by two in the third period.
Matt Stajan. The defensive conscious on the first line. His confidence continues to ride high with another point, and another solid game. Good timing. And good to see.
Odds and Ends
Sven’s second game was much better than his first as he looked more comfortable with the puck, and was clearly more successful with a goal. He has to go back when two forwards are healthy which will likely buy him two more games at the Dome this week. The big winner in all of this? Many to be honest. Up front the Winterhawks will be getting back a player that will suddenly find WHL hockey very easy to read and take advantage of (have fun in the playoffs Portland!), the Flames and Bartschi do well as well as the young player will be much more prepared for next season having had a taste. Great story …. Love the Matt Stajan tale too, he’s a good guy, popular in the room, but an over thinker something that had his game self destruct when he wasn’t producing. Good to see him showing why he’s actually a top six forward again. … Great story part III? Kiprusoff was stealing points left and right for the Flames in February, but now he’s fighting the puck a bit just when the Flames have found their stride offensively. Very good timing. The club will need the Fin to find his game again though if they want to stick in the playoff spot the crawled back into tonight.
The Flames return to the Dome to host the massively struggling San Jose Sharks at 7pm on Sportsnet.
Tanguay – Stajan – Iginla
Glencross – Jokinen – Moss
Bärtschi – Nemisz – Kostopolous
Desbiens – Horak – Kolanos
Smith – Bouwmeester
Giordano – Hannan
Babchuck – Sarich