White cowboy hats. Paul Brandt singing the anthems. Guns shooting off after it. The only thing missing was Curtis Glencross: welcome to Western Night at the Saddledome, and the bid for the perfect home stand.
Unfortunately, Matt Cooke still had to be busy being Matt Cooke. Cooke hit Matt Stajan, and it resulted in Stajan's stick accidentally hitting Cooke in the face. There was no call, and that made Cooke mad. What does Matt Cooke do when Matt Cooke gets mad? He head shots innocent people, of course, because he's Matt Cooke.
TJ Brodie was carrying the puck up the ice. He dished it off to a teammate, and in came Cooke, charging at Brodie, incredibly late and incredibly dangerously. The whistle went and Cooke didn't have much time to react before Chris Butler came flying (and I mean FLYING) in, dropping his gloves and attacking Cooke immediately.
Because he's Matt Cooke, Cooke did not drop his own gloves and simply turtled while the refs had to pry the raging Butler off of him.
Ultimately, Cooke got two minutes for interference, while Butler got two for roughing. Karri Ramo made an excellent stop during the four on four play, but not much else happened.
Less than a minute after the penalties expired, though, came a very beautiful goal, courtesy of... Kevin Westgarth and TJ Galiardi? Kevin Westgarth and TJ Galiardi. Westgarth made a beautiful pass between two Wild defencemen right to Galiardi, who, with a hell of a backhand, blasted the puck past Darcy Kuemper to put the Flames up 1-0.
Things were going well, but with just 2:02 left in the period, Ramo was gone and Reto Berra was in net. He was diagnosed with a lower body injury - possibly a twisted knee - after making a series of saves, and his night was over.
That injury to Ramo would prove to be, well, bad. After Charlie Coyle took a delay of game penalty, Matt Cooke - yes, that guy - fired a shot from the top of the faceoff circle. It was a very stoppable shot, but it flew over Berra's glove and in for the Wild's second shorthanded goal of the season, tying the game at one.
On that same powerplay, Brodie had a wide open net to shoot at, but got it right into Kuemper's glove.
Shortly after, Zach Parise got a bit of a breakaway, but slashed Dennis Wideman en route to it. While the Flames were unable to score on the powerplay, Wideman tipped a Butler shot from the point seconds after. It was going over the net before it hit the top of Kuemper's stick and went in, putting the Flames up 2-1 and giving Parise a minus right after he stepped back on the ice.
Just 19 seconds into the third period, Bouma was called for holding, but that was okay. While killing the penalty, Lee Stempniak carried the puck into the Wild's zone. Joining him were Mark Giordano and Mikael Backlund. Stempniak shot it off Kuemper's pad, Kuemper slid out of his crease, Giordano tried to get it but was brought down by Jason Pominville, and in the end of all the chaos Greatest Hockey Player of All Time Mikael "Mickis" Backlund was right there to pot the goal for the team's eighth shorthanded goal of the year, putting the Flames up 3-1.
#Flames Backlund has 3 SH goals and 7 pts (4-3-7) in a four-game spree. Mark Giordano has a 9-game point streak with an assist.— Randy Sportak (@SUNRandySportak) February 2, 2014
Mikael Backlund is tied for 2nd in the NHL with three shorthanded goals. Behind only Boston's Brad Marchand (4).— Darren Haynes (@DarrenHaynes_CP) February 2, 2014
The last @NHLFlames dman to have a 9+ game point streak was Gary Suter who went 13 games from Jan.28 - Feb.26, 1993. 21 years ago— Sean Kelso (@kelsohockey) February 2, 2014
While all that was outstanding, and the best, there were still 19 minutes left to play, and the Wild weren't going to go away so easily.
Joe Colborne received a holding penalty against Keith Ballard, and Dany Heatley scored on the ensuing powerplay. Berra couldn't hold the puck, and Heatley, relentless on it and uncovered, got it between Berra's leg and the post and in, bringing the Wild within one.
The Wild seemed in control at this point, and it was only a matter of time before they tied it up. A little over five minutes later, the uncomposed Flames were scrambling in their own zone until Ballard tied the game at three.
While the Wild were pressuring at the end of the period, they were unable to score again, and the game went to overtime.
All you need to know about overtime is Mikael Backlund is literally the greatest player of all time.
Five straight wins. A perfect home stand. Some very happy Calgary Flames.
Sumo suits and cowboy hats. https://t.co/ENAF1DzhlQ— Josh Gold-Smith (@GoldAndOrSmith) February 2, 2014
Fire Matt Cooke out of a cannon and into the sun. There was a lot of talk about how he's "reformed" himself, but fact is, he was wronged, and his first action was to attack a player who had nothing to do with it. That's not acceptable for any player to do, but for Matt Cooke especially? He should have run out of chances long ago.
- I don't know if it was Cooke's hit that started it or what, but this game got pretty violent. Colborne was trying to go after Cooke, Coyle crosschecked Gio for no apparent reason, Stempniak threw Coyle to the ice later on, Mike Rupp tripped Brian McGrattan by using his stick to pull his leg out from under him, McGrattan had a huge hit on Nate Prosser, there were quite a few scrums... Very angry game.
Speaking of truculence, Lance Bouma is the best kind of truculent. He was everywhere all night, laying out big hits and driving hard to the net and doing every single cliche you can think of, but doing it really, really well. He's probably playing in over his head at the moment - he's getting more ice time than he would be if the team was healthy - but he's handling it with stride and is someone this rebuilding team should keep around. He's all heart.
Brodie was jumping up into the play all night. Since Hartley said that Brodie doesn't know just how good he can be, the young defenceman has been much more active in jumping up in the play and creating scoring chances. His defence isn't suffering from it, either: 28:12 of ice time tonight, and 57.1% in corsi, the highest for a regular defenceman on the team. He's still young, and the offence will probably come.
- On that note, sorry, Chris Breen. With Kris Russell's late scratch tonight, Breen drew in, and Hartley only trusted him for 4:30 of ice time. He started exclusively in the offensive zone, and played some of the Wild's lightest competition. Even if Burke prefers to have Breen up over Shane O'Brien, it doesn't matter if Hartley doesn't want to play Breen. Every other defenceman played over 20 minutes this game.
- Galiardi scored his second goal of the year this game. His first goal came way back on the second game of the year, a rather nice one against the Blue Jackets. Galiardi's a weird case: he tends to be Hartley's default healthy scratch (he drew in last minute for Ben Street tonight), but he's actually the Flames' leader in CF% at 51.3% - the only guy above 50% at the moment. What this means is, basically, Galiardi is the Flames' lone positive possession player. He's 15th on the team in ice time, so it could be a case of a relatively smaller sample size, but that's still over 500 minutes of him generally driving possession. The Sharks - who are usually regarded as a pretty good team who know what they're doing - had him playing on a line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns towards the end of Galiardi's time in San Jose. Maybe there's more to him than meets the eye.
- Mikael Backlund has four straight two-point games. He is, again, the very best.
So great he literally sparkles.
- If Karri Ramo can't play over the next week, expect Joni Ortio to get called up, and maybe even start a game or two. Ortio, in his rookie AHL season, has a save percentage of .930% - good for third in that league, over 25 games and 1441:33 minutes played. He could probably handle a call up.
Remember when the Flames couldn't score at home to save their lives? Now they're being forced to leave the sweet, beautiful confines of the Saddledome. The Flames will be in Montreal on Tuesday for their first game in a three game road trip. Puck drop will be at 5:30 PM MST. Let's see if they can make it six.