The Flames came into this game against a hot LIghtning squad that they hadn't beaten at home since 2003, and took advantage of their problem area early on, scoring twice on seven shots in the first period and four times on just nineteen shots in total. Perhaps more important however, is the fact that the Flames stayed out of the box and managed to keep the deadly duo of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis off the scoresheet. They were outshot by the Bolts at EV and altogether, largely as a result of having the lead for the majority of the game, but the Flames played much smarter, more disciplined hockey than what we saw in Sunday's loss to the Blackhawks, and most importantly, they capitalized on their opportunities and scored goals at crucial times.
The Flames got off to a fairly quick start in this one with goals from unlikely sources, as former Bolt Cory Sarich beat Dan Ellis with a hard shot from the point to put the home side up 1-0 just over seven minutes in. They would add to their lead shortly thereafter when Tom Kostopoulos scored his first as a Flame with assists from Rene Bourque and Mark Giordano to put Calgary up 2-0 after one. They were outshot by Tampa 10-7 in the opening frame, although chances were tied at five per side.
The Flames would add to their lead less than five minutes into the second when Bourque scored on a nifty give-and-go with Curtis Glencross and Mikael Backlund, who had himself a decent night after sitting in the club's last outing against Chicago. The Flames would struggle in the latter half of the period after taking a three-goal lead as the Bolts would score twice, including a Ryan Malone marker with one minute left in the frame to pull Tampa within one. Shots were 7-6 in favour of the Lightning in the middle frame while chances were tied a six a piece.
After a spectacular save on St. Louis by Miikka Kiprusoff and an early penalty to start the third, the Flames did a good job avoiding prevent-defence by spending some time in the offensive zone. They managed to draw two penalties that lead to Jarome Iginla's goal to put the home side up by two for good. Tampa had little in the way of dangerous chances after that, even with the goalie pulled late in the game, and the Flames escaped their brief stop-over at the 'Dome with a much needed two points.
This wasn't necessarily the Flames' most impressive victory of the season, but it didn't need to be. They had fewer than twenty shots at even strength for the second consecutive game and the powerplay generated little outside of Iginla's goal, but they scored more goals than the opposition and got the job done. Rene Bourque was back to his old self tonight, scoring a pretty goal and adding two assists while ending up on the positive side of things in both Corsi (leading all forwards at +7) and scoring chance differential. On a night when the team got outshot and the most shots a player had on the team was Bourque with three, only three forwards finished in the red.
Jay Bouwmeester and Robyn Regehr had an impressive night up against Stamkos and St. Louis, finishing a combined +7 in Corsi and +4 in scoring chance differential in a game where ice time was pretty spread out amongst Flames' defencemen. Giordano narrowly beat out Bouwmeester for the most at 22:27 with Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich each playing over 18 minutes, Anton Babchuk sitting at just over 21, and Adam Pardy playing the least at 15:10 in his first game back from injury. That pairing struggled somewhat in this game facing the Lightning's fourth line of Adam Hall, Nate Thompson, and Dana Tyrell, as they would finish -4 in Corsi and even in scoring chances.
Kiprusoff shut the door after allowing two goals that he likely could have and should have stopped, and the Flames were perfect on the penalty kill after allowing six goals with the extra man in their past two games. This was a game that was good but could have been better, but we'll take the win. The two points puts the Flames a point ahead of the Oilers and clear of last place in the West, while they sit just four points back of the L.A. Kings (coincidentally their next opponent) for eighth in the conference.
The Flames begin a two-game swing through California on Thursday when they visit the Staples Centre before taking on Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks on Friday.