ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 1: Cory Sarich #6 of the Calgary Flames congratulates teammate Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames after Kiprusoff shut out the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on March 1, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
After tonight's 6-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues, Miikka Kiprusoff now has three shutouts in his past five games and 40 for his career, and tonight's was well deserved--despite the score. The Flames fell off a cliff in the second period after taking a 1-0 lead in a back-and-forth opening frame, and Kipper was there to save their bacon, as the visitors were out-chanced 9-2 at even strength.
The first period saw both teams exchange chances in what was a fairly even period despite the fact that the Flames doubled St. Louis in shots. Both teams took turns applying the pressure and neither could find the back of the net until Alex Tanguay out-waited Blues 'tender Ben Bishop and roofed a pretty one with 1:40 remaining in the period.
The second period was where things began to get dicey for the Flames; the Blues were pushing for the equalizer from the opening faceoff onwards, and took advantage of some undisciplined play by the visitors to generate some quality scoring opportunities. The Flames blocked 24 shots in this contest, the majority of which likely came in the second frame, when they limited the Blues to just seven shots that actually got through to Kiprusoff. Somehow, the visitors emerged from the period unscathed, still leading 1-0 heading into the final frame.
Calgary would turn their fortunes around in the third period. After Jarome Iginla scored on a 2-on-1 rush with Brendan Morrison to put the Flames up 2-0, the frustrated Blues got into some penalty trouble. With Kevin Shattenkirk off for boarding, David Moss tipped the puck in for his third goal in as many games to give the visitors a three-goal advantage.
Just under four minutes later, the Captain was at it again, beating Bishop with his 27th of the season with help from his linemates Morrison and Alex Tanguay, who continued his recent hot streak with a goal and two assists in this game. Shortly thereafter on another man advantage, Robyn Regehr pounded home his second of the season from the point to further pad his team's lead. Just when you thought it was finally over, the Flames would show no mercy, and Niklas Hagman would execute another fancy move to put the final nail in the coffin for the hapless hosts.
This was one of those games where, for some reason or another, things just went the Flames' way. Yes, they blocked a lot of shots, but that's an indication of a team spending far too much time in its own end, which Calgary certainly did in this game. With only 23 ES shots to their name, they took advantage of their opportunities--a turnover here, a strange bounce there--against a Blues club that admittedly gave up after out-playing their visitors for nearly two full periods and failing to beat Kiprusoff, and that was the difference. Without Kipper's acrobatics on a few golden St. Louis chances, this game could have ended differently.
I know that he finished in the red in both scoring chances and Corsi (few players didn't on this night), but I really liked Matt Stajan's game tonight. He seemed to be in constant pursuit of the puck, and despite getting knocked down a few times in the corners and in front of the net, forechecked more persistently than I've seen him do in quite some time. The third line was fed most of the defensive assignments tonight and was on the ice for a combined 16 defensive zone draws at even strength while Stajan himself spent the second-most time on the penalty kill of any Flames forward at 1:38.
David Moss continued to carry the second line tonight with Curtis Glencross and Olli Jokinen fading further into the background. Both finished with just one shot on net despite the fact that Glencross enjoyed 2:25 of PP time. As Kent mentions here, Moss was the only forward to finish on the positive side of the possession and scoring chance numbers, which gives you an indication of just how much he's been driving results lately.
It's always nice to see the Flames light up the scoreboard, particularly the top line, but they're going to have to do a much better job of earning their keep tomorrow against an equally invincible Blackhawks team that has won five in a row and is 7-1-2 in their past ten games.