After getting shutout at home against Minnesota on Wednesday, the floodgates opened for the Flames last night, as they would score seven times in a 7-4 victory over the Dallas Stars in what was Henrik Karlsson's first win on home ice this season.
The home side would start the scoring when Alex Tanguay scored at the side of an open net just 3:40 into the opening frame. Brendan Morrow scored to tie things up just five minutes later when he broke away from his man Jarome Iginla and beat Karlsson with a quick shot, and Dallas would take a 2-1 lead shortly thereafter on Brad Richards' 19th goal of the season. Olli Jokinen would score with just under five minutes remaining to tie the game at twos for the home side and thus the game was officially labelled a barn-burner, as both goalies had allowed two goals on just seven shots in the opening frame.
The second period started off slightly calmer than the first, as both teams attempted to take care of their own zones and the goalies settled things down a bit for the first half of the middle frame. Mikael Backlund, who had been buzzing in the Stars' zone for much of the game, scored his fifth of the season at 11:51 to give the Flames a 3-2 lead before two goals less than a minute apart by David Moss and Brendan Morrison extended the home side's lead to three. Nicklas Grossman would score his first goal in 130 games before the period was over, and the Flames would hold a two-goal lead after forty minutes.
The Stars would continue pressing to open the final frame, making things awfully tight for their hosts when James Neal scored just 31-seconds in to cut the Flames' lead to one. The home side would push back though, with several good shifts in the offensive zone before Iginla scored his 20th of the season unassisted to restore his team's two-goal cushion. That would be as close as the Stars would get, as Moss finished off the scoring with his second of the game on a Flames powerplay at 12:12. Dallas finished with marginal edge in shots at 21-19, but the Flames enough goals to win the game, and that was all that mattered on this night.
Much like the games in Carolina and Montreal, this one was no goaltending duel, with both 'tenders fighting the puck at times in the game and Andrew Raycroft finishing with a laughable SV% of .632, but Karlsson made the saves he needed to make when the Stars were within one early in the third period. He didn't face a lot of shots and is probably not overly satisfied with his performance, but his defenders struggled at times, failing to clear the zone and allowing odd-man rushes, and he got the job done in the end.
The Flames had another superb night on the penalty kill, keeping the Stars' top-ten powerplay off the scoresheet while pushing the pace of things shorthanded. With Moss' third period powerplay goal, they outplayed the Stars on special teams while things were roughly even at ES, with Dallas outshooting the home team 17-15.
This was a game where the Flames as a whole weren't especially good and certainly never dominant--eight players finished with zero shots on goal--but as far as individual performances go, obviously David Moss had an excellent game, finishing with two goals and an assist despite being used in a mostly defensive role by Sutter. I also thought that Mikael Backlund had a nice game, probably one of his best since being re-called by the Flames. He worked hard on the cycle and battled in the offensive zone all night, and was rewarded with a goal. He kept his head above water in just over 11 minutes of ice time (mostly at ES), although him and Jackman had some pretty favourable Zone Starts. Both were on the ice for six offensive zone draws compared to just one in the D-Zone while Niklas Hagman was on for four in the defensive zone and just one in the O-Zone.
On the back end, the pairing of Mark Giordano and Cory Sarich did well for themselves last night, both finishing with a positive scoring chance differential and a combined +20 in Corsi. Sarich finished the game with 2/3 of a Gordie Howe Hat-trick after recording an assist Moss' first goal and a fight with legendary d-bag Steve Ott late in the game, and I only cursed his name once in the Game Thread comments, which amounts to a pretty fine evening for the defender.
The Flames are back to .500 again after last night's victory, moving them to within a point of the Blue Jackets for 13th in the West; they don't have much time to enjoy the 'W,' however, as the Canucks await them for tonight's contest at Roger's Arena.