Flames Captain Leads Way in Reclaiming First
Flames 4 – Avalanche 3
This game was what is commonly referred to as a statement game. After getting pushed around pretty well just 24 hours earlier, and surrendering 1st place in the Northwest division to the Avalanche, Colorado was the foe once again and presented a chance to completely erase yesterday's results. With 3 games in hand after this mini-series, it was widely thought that just a simple split of the two game set would have the Flames sitting in a very comfortable spot before heading on a 7 game road trip.
March 13, 2006
Earlier in the day head coach Darryl Sutter issued a challenge to his troops to pick up on the woeful offence of the last while. Taking his boss at face value, team captain Jarome Iginla raised his effort level, along with several others, and in doing so accomplished a win in what was truly a very big game for this fragile hockey team, and they have propelled themselves back into the lofty heights of 1st place in hockey's most difficult division. As with everything else this club does however, it did not come easy, but they "got 'er done".
Well done guys, very well done.
On The Line
It's the NW division.....so on any given night a divisional game can mean the difference of a spot up or down depending on results. It also was a game that could move the 5h place team in the conference into 3rd spot and back into a home ice advantage spot....suffice to say it, like all games this time of year, was huge, and a ton on the line.
The Flames came out resembling a hockey team rarely seen in Calgary this year and it showed on the scoreboard. With an effort from all 4 lines right off the bat, Calgary pressed, then pressed some more, and finally broke through. Calgary never really let up until late in the 1st and again in the second, and then had a bit of a melt down in the 3rd. However, and overall, Calgary was by far the better team on the night.
1 – Jarome Iginla. The very much maligned Calgary leader was a force all night. With 2 goals, a post, several hits, and a well played defensive game (sans one moment) the 7 million dollar man was an inspiration to his whole team.
2 – Joe Sakic. The Avs best player by a mile all game, he was a thorn in the Flames side all evening while scoring the clubs first goal and sending "uh-oh's" reverberating throughout the Saddledome.
3 – Chris Simon. The hardest working player on the Flames in this one. He also set up the winning goal with a nifty little back pass from behind the net to an open Kobasew. Working tirelessly along the boards all game and going +1 for the night earns him a rare star appearance.
Dan Hinote saw a quick moving Andrew Ference coming behind the Flames net and steadied himself which sent the Flames dman flying backwards and looking like it shook him up for a bit.
During an Avalanche power play in the 2nd period, and the club still ahead 3-0, Jarome Iginla lost his stick and was forced to skate out towards a point shot which had Calgary keeper Miikka Kiprusoff screened. It's hard to describe, but Kipper didn't see the shot until it was about 8 feet in front of him but he made the adjustment and a reflex save that was unbelievable. That was immediately topped by him knowing the rebound was heading to his left where a wide open Milan Hedjuk waited to deposit the puck in an empty net, but Kiprusoff was up to the task there as well, sliding over and making the save before covering the puck for a whistle. Simply put, that was world class goaltending.
This is a split decision tonight. First to Marcus Nilson for taking a boneheaded holding-the-stick penalty a full 200 feet away from his net while his club was up 3-1. Of course the Av's promptly potted a goal on the ensuing man advantage and finger nails got a lot shorter in the dome.
Secondly to Jarome Iginla, yes he was the first star, and deservedly so, but he was also almost a BIG goat on the night. With his club up 2 goals late, and Budaj of the Avs off for an extra attacker, Iginla was the guy responsible for the backdoor off a scrum in the corner. When Jordon Leopold lost his stick, it was imperative that both forwards be aware of not allowing a pass across the middle of the net...and Iginla failed on that miserably as he got caught watching instead of reacting, and bingo-bango-bongo, the puck was in the net.
Chuck Kobasew netted the game winner which was more of an insurance marker when it was scored. In a wild and woolly 3rd period it was clear that Calgary may have trouble winning with the 3 goals on the board, and the youngster relieved a bunch of people when he freed himself in the middle of the ice and received a sweet pass from behind the net. He then made no mistake in snapping it past a startled Peter Budaj and sending the Flame faithful into a frenzy.
Odds and Ends
Calgary Flames head coach and GM Darryl Sutter won his 400th career game as a head coach in the NHL. A very impressive number to be sure as it's only the 16th time its been accomplished...Tonight marked the 35th consecutive sell out in the Saddledome. Very well done Calgary, standing ovation for you........Colorado's first goal in the 3rd ended a streak of over 135 minutes where the Flames hadn't been scored against on home ice......This game looked a lot closer on the scoreboard than it should of. With 3 posts and a goal that was waved off ( it was in no question but the replay was not "conclusive") this could of easily been that breakout game on offence so many have been clamouring for.....The Flames are now 21-14 in 1 goal games......Robyn Regehr led all skaters with 24:15 in ice time, Marcus Nilson was on the opposite end with jus t under 11 minutes....Cale Hulse had his best game as a Flame........Calgary barely won the faceoff battle with a 51% MARK.......Newcomer Jamie Lundmark made his Flame debut, but really wasn't all that noticeable beyond him taking a high stick and drawing a penalty.....
Next up – The Battle of Alberta is renewed in Edmonton on Thursday night. Oilers will be desperate.
Huselius- Langkow – Iginla
Amonte - Yelle – McCarty
Nilson - Lundmark – Donovan
Simon - Lombardi- Kobasew
Regehr - Leopold
Phaneuf - Hulse