The Flames came into Montreal looking to close out their four-game road trip on a three-game winning streak in a pre-Heritage Classic tilt with the Habs, and came oh-so-close to completing the comeback, falling 5-4 in overtime after clawing their way out of a 4-0 hole.
The Canadiens got the ball rolling early in this one when Lars Eller found himself alone in front of the net and beat Kiprusoff for his third of the season just 4:27 in. The goal came after the Flames had several good scoring chances to open the period, but couldn't make anything out of them. The middle part of the opening frame was sort of back and forth before Mike Cammalleri stepped out of the penalty box to find himself all alone, swooping in on Kipper and scoring his first goal in ten games against his former club. The Habs narrowly edged the Flames in shots through twenty minutes, leading 12-10; the home side also out-chanced the Flames 9-6 in scoring chances.
The Flames failed to stop the bleeding in the second period, as Montreal would add to its lead 3:14 in when Andrei Kostitsyn potted his 12th of the season. To add insult to injury, Jeff Halpern would score just over three minutes later on a goal assisted by Travis Moen. That was enough to trigger a goalie change for Calgary, as Kipper was summoned to the bench by Brent Sutter and replaced by Henrik Karlsson. The swap seemed to motivate the visitors, as Rene Bourque would get his team on the board with his 15th of the season at 13:26. Jarome Iginla would tip in a Jay Bouwmeester point shot with just over a minute remaining in the period to cut the Canadiens' lead in half heading into the final frame. Shots were 10 per side in the period with Montreal still holding the advantage in scoring chances.
Calgary would make quick work of things in the final frame when Ales "$1M/goal" Kotalik scored just over a minute and a half in to bring the Flames to within one. Former Canadien Alex Tanguay would complete the comeback for his club, knotting the game up at four before the period was three minutes old and chasing Alex Auld from the Habs' net in favour of Carey Price. Both sides had a few decent scoring chances throughout the remainder of the game, but were mostly playing for the tie, as shots ended up 8-6 in favour of the Flames with Karlsson doing some solid work between the pipes.
After some short-lived Flames pressure, the Habs would deny the visitors the extra point when the recently maligned P.K. Subban scored a weird one 1:06 into the extra frame that appeared to deflect off of Adam Pardy's stick before beating Karlsson glove side. The Flames back-up would get saddled with the OT loss despite stopping 11 of 12 Montreal shots in replacement of Miikka Kiprusoff, who had another rough game aided by some bad bounces before getting the hook.
After showing improvement over the course of this road trip, the trio of Hagman-Stajan-Glencross ended up on the negative side of things both in terms of underlying stats and on the scoresheet; Hagman was a -3 while Stajan and Glencross were each -2. Glencross had a near miss when his breakaway shot beat Auld but found the post in the first period, but aside from that, he only recorded one shot on goal in the game.
The Flames' top half had a much better outing tonight, as the line of Bourque-Jokinen-Kotalik was given the tough assignments by Brent Sutter while Iginla and Co. were given the more favourable circumstances in terms of their position on the ice. The top line was only on the ice for a combined four defensive zone draws compared to five for Bourque alone, who still managed a goal, three shots, and a +2 rating in this game and has looked a lot more like his old self of late. Iggy's line did see a lot of Cammalleri, Plekanec, and Eller, however, and finished in the black in both shots and chances while scoring a combined four points.
On the back end, Jay Bouwmeester had a pretty good game with the return of regular partner Robyn Regehr. He finished on the positive side of things in Corsi and well in the black in scoring chances with one assist while seeing just over 25 minutes of ice time. He also recorded two hits according to the event summary, a rarity for the lanky rearguard who had been fighting it a bit in his past few games. Cory Sarich left the game after blocking a shot in the third period, although there have been no further updates on his condition as of late. Adam Pardy got bumped back down to the third pairing with Anton Babchuk as a result of Robyn Regehr's return, although he still played just under 19 minutes in this game, including 1:33 on the powerplay, although he finished in the red in both possession and EV chances.
This was one of those games where bounces (both good and bad) were a factor for both teams. The Flames weren't bad enough to deserve to be down 4-0 and the Habs didn't play poorly enough to give up four unanswered goals, but tonight's game was certainly no goaltending dual. This game could have turned out differently had both sides not had the misfortune of finding the iron a couple times. The Flames certainly didn't play their best hockey on this trip against mostly middling teams, but after collecting points in all four games including two in which they appeared to be down for the count, there is seemingly little to complain about for the time being.
The Flames get a day of rest tomorrow before taking on the Minnesota Wild at home on Wednesday.