The Wild are having a lot of trouble scoring goals, the Flames have been having a heck of a time scoring powerplay goals of late.
Both held true in an expected tight scoring affair in Minnesota as the Flames powerlay gassed both a five minute major and a four minute double minor in the final 25 minutes, finally losing an overtime game to the Wild
On The Line
Two wins on home ice including the latter in dramatic fashion has the Flames back to .500 and looking to move above that mark for the fourth time this season. We all know how that worked the last three times.
About as good a start as you can expect to have on the road as the Flames come out blazing with a controlled, smart, 200 foot game that had the Wild out of answers. They forechecked well, moved the puck from one side to the other through the neutral zone and not being a whole lot of fun to play against. They go ahead on a powerplay when a Cammalleri wrist shot hits Backlund then bounces up in the air only to have Alex Tanguay bat it in from the air. Minnesota pushes back on a four on four, but the period ends up 1-0 Flames.
Second period featured what you’d expect from a talented crew on home ice that got out worked in the first period; a push back. The Wild were moving their skates and the Flames got caught flat footed leading to penalties and scoring chances for the home side. Joey MacDonald and the cross bar got the job done though, and the Flames were able to take their slim lead into the third.
The third was a better period for the Flames as they did a better job of pushing the puck up the ice and getting in on the forecheck. The failure of the stanza was another blown powerplay though, as a four minute minor gave the Flames little by way of chances setting up the inevitable tying goal from Minnesota. If not from some late game heroics from MacDonald they would have lost in regulation.
Seconds into overtime the Wild get the powerplay goal and the Wild completed the comeback.
1. Zach Parise: Was taking a lot of heat for not scoring after the big contract signing, silenced some critics tonight with a key overtime goal.
2. Joey MacDonald: Second time in a week I’ve picked this guy as a Flame’s star in a losing effort. Simply the biggest reason the Flame’s got a point in this game.
3. Ryan Suter: Similar contract story as Parise, played almost 30 minutes and had two assists..
Backstrom stopped three breakaways in the game; to Comeau, Iginla and finally Stajan, with Stajan’s being the most difficult save. However the pad save Joey MacDonald made on Spurgeon with 11 seconds left in the third period is by far the save of the game.
In the first period the monstrous Michael Rupp plastered Dennis Wideman into the corner boards behind the Flames net; a true pancake.
Mike Cammalleri. Had an assist, I know, but I’d say 90% of the time Cammalleri touched the puck on a powerplay he’d quickly lose it and the puck would be iced. The little guy has to bear down and be tougher on his stick. Too loose, and/or disinterested. It would have been easy to pick on the powerplay in general, but I wanted to be more specific and single out the player I felt was the least “sharp”.
Minnesota skill. Your best players have to be your best players, and with the chips down the Wild engineered a comeback on the back of Parise, Suter and Backstrom.
Odds and Ends
Little things win hockey games, and when enough players do enough little things it’s amazing how things can start to roll. One guy doing a lot of little things this season is Lee Stempniak. His first period stick on a Parise pass to Koivu surely halted what looked to be a sure goal. Great signing …. Rob Kerr puzzling question after the disallowed goal to the Wild; “very curious to see how this affects who”. That’s a complex question! … The odds on number to make the playoffs right now is 54 points, so the Flames will need to be 6 games over .500 at season’s end. In a 48 game schedule that divides well eight times, meaning a 4-3-1 record in each segment will get you in. A win tonight and the Flames would have been a game over .500 through 18, or roughly a game or two behind … Any assessment of the contract value of Denis Wideman’s pact has to consider the development curve of T.J. Brodie. Brodie was poised to breakout this season, and may scouts pointed to that during the lockout, but Wideman has been the perfect guide to the offensive, and transition side of the game. … Does Curtis Glencross irk anyone else? The guy does all the little things wrong including slapping a guy in the face with his stick on a powerplay. Was tempting to give him the goat. … Who else found themselves shocked to hear yourself worried that Matt Stajan might be hurt? Good on him. Hope he’s ok. Odd that Coyle wasn’t tossed for the hit with the five minute major. … As much as the Giordano penalty hurt the Flames in overtime, I have to agree with the rule. Players were getting away with murder half covering the puck and advancing it in their own zone. Probably a good rule.
The Flames move on to Colorado to play the Avalanche on Thursday night, 7pm on Sportsnet
Glencross – Cammalleri – Stempniak
Tanguay – Stajan – Iginla
Baertschi – Hudler – Cervenka
Hudler – Begin – Jackman
Giordano – Bouwmeester
Brodie – Wideman
Butler – Smith