Recap: Flames Actually Score Goals, Beat Avs 4-3

Derek Leung

After a dismal stretch that saw just one goal in four games, the Flames lit up the Avalanche for their first win of 2014.

Hi, M&G! First off, a quick shout out to both Kevin and Ruhee for coming on board the blog. And an enormous thank you to Hayley for running the blog as long as she did, and originally bringing me on board. She did a fantastic job keeping things going near-singlehandedly, and deserves all the respect in the world for it. It'll be great to see her still writing here, albeit in a reduced role.

But that's enough of that. A lot happened in this game, so here we go with the recap!

The Flames started off in the rarest of ways: by scoring a goal. Just over a minute in, Dennis Wideman passed the puck up into the neutral zone for Lee Stempniak, who then chipped it to Sean Monahan. With Paul Byron driving to the net - and bringing Jamie McGinn with him - Monahan took a shot. The puck went off JS Giguere's skate, off McGinn's skate, and in. For the first time in nine games, the Flames had a lead.

The Avalanche struck back on the first powerplay of the game when Mike Cammalleri went off for tripping. Karri Ramo was unable to control the puck as Nathan MacKinnon stickhandled it under him, and a diving Ladislav Smid ended up nudging the puck in the net with the toe of his skate. MacKinnon would score again on the powerplay, as the Flames took a too many men call. Four Avs touched the puck before MacKinnon shot it in from the slot, beating Ramo just over his glove. The first period saw the Avs up 2-1, outshooting the Flames 7-4.

Things started heating up in the second period when Kevin Westgarth began to run amuck. It started when he dangerously boarded Matt Duchene in the corner. McGinn took issue with this, and had a few tussles with Westgarth, ultimately getting thrown down to the ice. Westgarth was eventually called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which is what one should be called for when one is out there trying to hurt people.

The Avalanche, however, were unable to cash in on the powerplay. The Flames tied the game just two minutes later, when TJ Galiardi shot the puck from the point. Joe Colborne tipped the puck en route to the net, and it went in. It should be noted that, of course, the earlier shenanigans by Westgarth had absolutely nothing to do with a redirected pack going past the opposing goaltender, and did not cause the goal.

The Flames closed out the second by taking the lead. Mark Giordano's shot from the point ended up right at Jiri Hudler's feet. Hudler, who was snubbed by the Czechs for an Olympic roster spot earlier in the day, batted the puck through Giguere's pads to put the Flames up 3-2.

Colorado battled back in the third when Gabriel Landeskog brought the puck into the offensive zone. He dished it off to Paul Stastny, who, with a quick move, slid it through Ramo's pads. MacKinnon would later have the chance to give the Avs the lead as he split the Flames' defence in a bid for his first NHL hat trick, but a poke check by Ramo stopped him.

With about five minutes to go in the game, Mikael Backlund carried the puck through all three zones into the offensive area. Three Avs converged on him... and then, three more came. The Avalanche took their own too many men penalty, and it proved disastrous for them. On the ensuing powerplay, Colborne took a hit to pass the puck to Hudler, who then smoothly dished it to Cammalleri who was waiting right in front of the net to snipe it in.

A cross-crease slide by Ramo with about 7.5 seconds to go to stop Landeskog, and the Flames beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. This was their first regulation win since a 4-1 victory over the Coyotes back on December 4, 2013.

Some thoughts:

  • Lots of droughts snapped in this one: Stempniak ended a 12 game point drought with his assist on Monahan's goal. Colborne's tally was his first in 17 games. Galiardi, a frequent healthy scratch, picked up his seventh point of the year, his first since November 14.
  • If you're keeping track of rookie scoring, Monahan briefly tied MacKinnon for second in goals, behind only Tomas Hertl, before MacKinnon answered back with two of his own. Monahan is currently third in rookie goal scoring with 12, and 11th in points with 18.
  • Speaking of Monahan, he's tied with Hudler for second in goals on the Flames, just one behind Cammalleri, whose 13th on the year was the game winner. Monahan is also tied with Giordano for third in points on the Flames with 18, although he's played 11 more games than the captain. His ice time is coming back up, too, as he played 13:32 this game: fewer minutes than Backlund and Matt Stajan, but more than Colborne. His corsi was even as he was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and against, but he also started in the offensive zone only about 20% of the time, compared to 50% of his shifts starting in the defensive zone. That's a good sign as he looks to continue to turn the corner.
  • Jiri "Not An Olympian" Hudler had a pretty good game with a goal and an assist, both of which came from high skill plays with great awareness. Good job, Czech Republic!
  • Ramo didn't have as great an effort tonight as he did against the Lightning, but fortunately, he didn't need to. Finally, the Flames were able to come through for their goalie. With points from ten different Flames, it was a good team effort.
  • Not impressed with Westgarth, however. It's not his fault he's not a good hockey player. It's not his fault the Flames acquired him. It IS his fault when he's a liability to injure others when he steps out on the ice. Not just take penalties - but actually try to hurt other people. That happened tonight, and while fortunately nothing bad came of it, it's not a good feeling to see that kind of behaviour on your team. Watching a bad team is one thing; sometimes, teams are just bad. Watching a team try to hurt opposing players is a whole other issue. Hopefully this doesn't continue. That's not truculence, it's straight up thuggery, and it should not be welcome.

The Flames will be back at it as they head to Phoenix tomorrow night for a game against the coyotes. Puck drop is at 7 PM MT.

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