If Lanny McDonald giving the Calgary Flames an inspirational speech isn’t enough to motivate the troops, well – there’s something wrong.
The Flames’ legend paid a visit to the Flames’ locker room the day before the big game in Vancouver, talking about the importance of sticking together through tough times. Now, calling 2 losses in a row ‘tough times’ may be a little dramatic, but when you only have 48 dates to work with the urgency becomes a little heightened. A visit to a tough building and an always tough opponent regardless of their own tepid start to the season has to leave the Flames feeling a little uneasy as they search for their first victory of the season.
On The Line
Again, 2 losses in a row is not a big deal. Its the timing that hurts, and the fact there is a big fat zero staring back at them from the win column. That monkey has to be plucked from their back as soon as possible before a real tailspin actually begins. But hey, same goes for the Canucks – so, this should be good.
The first period started off choppy but ended up having a pretty good flow as both teams settled in to the game. Both teams showed from hustle from the first whistle, and a Steve Begin shot block and Dennis Wideman hit showed the Flames came to play with an edge. Vancouver had the first great scoring chance when Kevin Bieksa fired a point missile which was turned away at the last second by the right pad of a screened Kiprusoff – a crucial save in the early going. Both teams would trade posts until the Flames blew the biggest chance of the period. Jarome Iginla picked up a point shot rebound from Bouwmeester and had nothing but time and space to lift the puck backhanded over Schneider’s leg. The Canucks goaltender got the pad out-streched and the Flames captain failed at raising the rubber off the ice, and Schneider denied Calgary a sure 1-0 lead.
A very entertaining 2nd frame didn’t start out so well for the Flames. After a cautious start, the Canucks found pay dirt first when Zach Kassian was allowed not 1, not 2, but 3 attempts at the net with the latter finding its way in. First his wrap around attempt was denied by the right post, but he was given the puck back when Mark Giordano tried to clear it out of the zone. His 2nd shot was then blocked by the same Flames defenseman but finally Kassian would score when the rebound came straight back to his stick and this time he would bury it. The Flames took a predictable penalty shortly after that goal and Mason Raymond made it a two goal lead when he fired a wrister from the point to the top left corner past a screened Kiprusoff. Calgary found some life about three minutes later as Alex Tanguay found himself as the puck carrier on a 2-on-1 break with Jarome Iginla on Iginla’s one timer side. The whole building – including Tanguay himself most likely, assumed he would pass the puck to the Flames’ captain for the one timer blast. But quite shockingly, Alex Tanguay fired a wrister just inside the left post and got the bounce in to the net to get the Flames on the board. The Canucks then started a train of men to the penalty box, with the Flames enjoying a full 2 minutes of 5-on-3 hockey but couldn’t muster much of a chance. Once the Canucks had it down to just a 1 man disadvantage, Jarome Iginla carried the puck coast coast and managed a pass to Mikael Backlund after a beautiful deke. Backlund, positioned in the slot, let off a quick wrister which beat Cory Schneider after deflecting off the same post Tanguay used to his benefit just minutes before. The game was tied at two and both teams entered the 3rd period back at square 1.
The 3rd period had a frantic pace as both teams searched for the game deciding goal. Chances were traded back and forth but neither team could solve the other goaltender. Off to overtime they went, with Calgary carrying most of the play in the extra frame. Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Derek Smith all missed glorious opportunities on the same scramble in front of Schneider in the waning seconds. With the shootout being one of Calgary’s enemies all season last year and historically, not ending the game in overtime had to be disappointing. Off to the shootout they went, with Burrows and Kassian scoring for the Canucks and only Alex Tanguay finding the net for Calgary. A most entertaining game came to an end, 3-2 Vancouver in the shootout.
1. Zack Kassian: The large Canucks forward scored the opening goal on a great individual effort as well as the shootout winner and was noticeable every time he was on the ice.
2. Cory Schneider: You can say Calgary should have buried their chances, but on the flip side – this is the guy that stopped them. Made many game saving stops including some huge moments in the 3rd period and overtime.
3. Jarome Iginla: The best Flames forward and was definitely the biggest force we’ve seen over the first 3 games. Had the one assist but could have easily had a multiple point night had a couple bounces go the other way Led the way with 7 shots and had exactly the type of game this team needs.
You could really pick from a list of about 5 pad saves from Cory Schneider, but the save on Alex Tanguay in overtime with his left pad just before Derek Smith fired the puck over the net had to be his most difficult. With 5 players in his face while being pushed back in to the net, he held strong as Tanguay tried to shovel the puck and his leg over the line.
Dennis Wideman welcomed Jordan Schroeder to the NHL with a thundering first period open ice shoulder which sent the Canucks rookie sliding hard in to the boards.
In what was an incredibly even and well officiated game it is hard to find something to harp on during the actually game itself, so I’m going to harp on the shoot out attempts instead (I know, I know). Alex Tanguay deked – he scored. The other 4 flames (Iginla, Cammalleri, Stempniak, Glencross) all shot the puck – none of them scored. In what has always seemed to be a recipe for success for Flames’ shootout artists, it would be nice to see more deke attempts next time
Mikael Backlund played yet another strong game, scoring the game tying goal and getting the Flames to their first point of the season.
Odds and Ends
This one stings… but its okay, it was a great game and the Flames easily could have won. In the first 3 games, they are very unlucky to not have a win to their name and with the captain waking up – the wins will come and they will come soon. Aside from a lapse for a few minutes in the 2nd period (again) they really played a solid road game. Final shots were 36-36 and the two teams also split the score in the face-off dot. Is it just me, or does Mikael Backlund appear much bigger and stronger this year? And does Cammelleri look smaller, slower, and weaker than ever before? For 3 games in a row he has been one of the worst players in Red, and that’s saying something when you have Blake Comeau on the same team who has been completely dreadful. Anyways, this game was a step in the right direction and while the loss is absolutely annoying – it would have been so nice to keep Vancouver down – you have to look at this game as a positive.
The late game on Hockey Night in Canada will feature the Oilers at the Saddledome for this season’s first edition of the battle of Alberta. Game time 8:00 PM on CBC.
Cammalleri – Backlund – Iginla
Glencross – Tanguay – Stempniak
Comeau – Stajan – Baertschi
Begin – Jones – Jackman
Giordano – Bouwmeester
Brodie – Wideman
Smith – Sarich