Calgary continues to piss off the pro-tanking contingent of the fan base, as they won their sixth game in their past ten games and their third consecutive game (for the first time this season, might I add). But I can't complain about them making rival teams gunning for the playoffs squirm, which is exactly what they did tonight in Minny.
The Wild dominated the visiting Flames in the first period, outshooting them 14-5 and were the beneficiaries of two powerplays, but it was the Flames who would open the scoring on a beautiful goal by Mark Cundari on the man advantage. Cundari out-waited the Wild penalty killers and fired a near perfect shot high on Niklas Backstrom from near the right faceoff circle.
The Wild would begin the second period in much the same way, outshooting the Flames early, but Calgary would find their legs about halfway through the middle frame. After Cory Sarich left the game with a suspected broken nose following a fight with Clayton Stoner, the Flames were playing with just five defencemen, but that didn't matter to Mikael Backlund, who potted a rebound after Lee Stempniak went hard to the Wild net to make it 2-1 for the Flames.
The visitors would protect their lead well in the third period, as they actually managed to outshoot Minnesota for the only 20-minute stanza in this game. Mike Cammalleri scored on another powerplay with Tom Gilbert off for hooking when he found Cundari's pass in his skates and put the puck high on Backstrom's right side, just like the Flames rookie did earlier in the contest.
The Flames would continue to quash any threat of a Wild comeback when Cundari made a great defensive play on Parise, who was in all alone on MacDonald late in the final frame.
To top it all off, Jiri Hudler scored into an empty net for the Flames when the Wild tried to negate Calgary's late powerplay when they pulled Backstrom for an extra attacker.
It was an impressive debut for Mark Cundari, who nearly 25 minutes mostly with TJ Brodie, and looked especially good on the powerplay, where he scored both of his points tonight. He also played over two minutes on the penalty kill as the Flames killed off all three Wild powerplays in this contest while scoring on all three of their own.
Brodie played 28 minutes tonight and was a pleasure to watch again. He scored another two points tonight and played almost four minutes shorthanded. He's quickly becoming the Flames' go-to guy in all situations, and even former Wild Wes Walz was impressed with him:
Folks this Brodie kid for Flames is going to be a great hockey player....#7
Folks this Brodie kid for Flames is going to be a great hockey player....#7— Wes Walz (@walz3737) April 21, 2013
I really hope he gets a nice deal from the Flames this summer, normally I detest long-term contracts but I wouldn't object to five six years since he's so young.
Backlund is also making the case for a raise in the off-season and perhaps proving to Jay Feaster that he should be on that list of untouchable players he was unceremoniously excluded from earlier this season. He had another goal and four shots tonight and was really good on the transition in this game, I thought.
Ben Street and Max Reinhart had alright games, but I barely noticed Paul Byron and Ben Hanowski, apart from a bad giveaway in the defensive zone from the latter. Roman Horak had a rough game in terms of counting stats (0 shots and -1), but he was in on a couple of chances around the Wild net and played almost two minutes on the PK. MacDonald played pretty well for a guy who was sick earlier today, which may make it even tougher for Leland Irving to get a game in before the season ends.
The Flames are in Nashville to take on the Predators on Tuesday.