Just when it looked like this game was destined for that file labeled "blowouts" that gets stored in the back of your mind only to be dredged up by an opposing fan with an especially good memory, the Flames righted the ship, scoring three times in the final 25 minutes to send the game to overtime.
The Flames appeared to pick up where they left off Friday against Detroit in the first period of this game, as they got off to a quick start with Jay Bouwmeester's fourth of the season just over four minutes in and were the better team for much of the opening frame. It was a back and forth affair through twenty minutes, as Tuomo Ruutu would score to tie things up for the 'Canes at 11:46 before Jarome Iginla restored the visitors' lead less than two minutes later. Jussi Jokinen (a.k.a "the one that doesn't suck) scored to square the game up at two goals a piece. The Flames outshot the home side 12-6 and out-chanced them 10-7 after one.
The second period was where the wheels came off for the Flames, as the pressure generated by two early Carolina powerplays resulted in goals by Erik Cole and Eric Staal to put the 'Canes up by two. It appeared to be the end of the road for the Flames after Jussi Jokinen scored his second of the night to extend Carolina's lead to 5-2, but Niklas Hagman gave the visitors some life with just over three minutes remaining in the middle frame, bringing his team within two. The 'Canes won the chance count in the second, and outshot the Flames 11-8, but with Calgary owning the edge in both categories through two.
The Flames would make quick work of tying this game in the final frame, as Curtis Glencross scored his third goal in two games just 1:31 in before Rene Bourque potted his 14th of the season to draw the Flames even. Despite numerous high quality scoring chances in the last half of the period for the Flames, they would conclude regulation play tied at five. Overtime would prove fruitless for both teams, as the Flames spent nearly half of the extra frame killing one of Bourque's patented inopportune penalties, and the game would go to a shootout, where 'Canes rookie Jeff Skinner would score the only goal to win it for Carolina--their third consecutive victory.
It was nice to see Rene Bourque get back on the scoresheet after going seven games without a point and ten without a goal. He didn't finish with the most favourable underlying stat line--but as Kent points out he was used in mainly defensive situations in this game, and he also played 3:09 shorthanded, as he, Curtis Glencross, and David Moss formed a very effective penalty killing unit tonight, neutralizing all five Hurricanes powerplay opportunities.
Jarome Iginla collected career assist #500 on Bouwmeester's opening goal as he and his linemates were fairly effective in terms of possession at EV tonight despite finishing on the negative side of the scoring chance differentials. It was another rough night for the Flames' back end however, Kiprusoff included. Cory Sarich made two trips to the penalty box while finishing in the red in both possession and overall scoring chances while his partener Mark Giordano was unfortunate enough to finish -2 on the night. Kipper was pulled in the second period after allowing three Hurricanes goals on just eight shots and Henrik Karlsson was good when called upon--saving 21 of 22 shots and stopping 2/3 'Canes shooters in the SO.
This was a night where the Flames stuck with it and didn't let the game get away from them when they were down by three; they were the better team for two periods and probably deserved a better result once again, but some bad bounces and another off night by Kiprusoff sealed their fate. A point is a point, and as long as this team is playing relatively well and not losing in regulation, there is reason to believe that their fortunes could improve.
The Flames are now off until Friday when they take on the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. I will be in attendance--which more or less means a guaranteed loss if my sub-.500 track record at the Saddledome means anything. Ah well, hope for the best.