Flames at Habs recap: oh no not another shutout

Richard Wolowicz

Carey Price thwarted Calgary at every turn as the Flames left Montreal after being shutout for the seventh time this season.

Montreal is a historic city; the Canadiens are a historic team. It was due cause for excitement among the Flames (and especially the younger players); the prospect of a sixth straight win was exciting for everyone. The good news is that the Flames are still on a winning streak on home ice.

First period

Ten minutes into the first period Montreal was outshooting the Flames 3-1, so that's pretty much how it was going.

Highlights of the period included Kevin Westgarth taking a faceoff and no carnage immediately following it, and "Reto Berra [not embarrassing] himself," in the wise words of John Shannon.

The period ended with the shots at 5-4 Montreal, although Calgary had 11 blocked shots to Montreal's 2, which... yikes.

The Habs also apparently honoured Steve Begin, a former Flames first rounder who spent six seasons within the Montreal organization (he played for the Bulldogs during the lockout) who recently retired as a Flame, so that was nice of them.

Second period

Things got more heated in the second period, as the shots, scoring chances, and apparent hatred increased.

The Flames came close to scoring off a shot by Lee Stempniak that was slowly trickling over the Habs' goal line, but just stopped before it fully crossed. Carey Price had the puck covered by that point, so there was little chance it would have counted as a goal on the review, anyway.

Shortly after, the Flames got a two minute 5 on 3. Tomas Plekanec was called for roughing on Matt Stajan, and Lars Eller closed his hand on the puck on the ensuing faceoff. While the Flames got a few good chances over the course of the long two man advantage, the Habs were able to shut them down. The powerplay ended when Dennis Wideman was unable to keep the puck in, and both Plekanec and Eller came back on the ice to the loud cheers of the appreciative crowd at the Bell Centre.

Daniel Briere then had a golden chance against the Flames when he tipped the puck behind Berra, but it went wide.

TJ Brodie turned the puck over in the neutral zone to Plekanec. Mikael Backlund came back and expertly separated him from the puck, but a massive scrum ensued as a result as everyone went after everyone else. Plekanec was called for two penalties on the play - cross checking on Backlund, and slashing on Mark Giordano - while Backlund and Giordano both went to the box for roughing.

In a period in which the shots were 15-14 Montreal, something would have to go in eventually, and it was former Flame Rene Bourque with the icebreaker. With just under four minutes remaining in the period, other former Flame Brandon Prust took a shot, and it bounced off Bourque - even though Backlund had him completely tied up - and in.

Third period

Tried as the Flames might - and they came out trying, and trying all period - they simply were unable to put the puck past Carey Price.

With two minutes left, Hartley pulled Berra, and the Flames kept up their sustained pressure. They continued to prove that never giving up was their motto for the season, as even when the Habs got the puck in the Flames' zone, the Flames were able to hold them off despite the empty net and get it back into the offensive zone for more attempts to tie the game.

The Canadiens iced the puck three times in a row, and the third time was the charm. On the ensuing faceoff, Mike Cammalleri got on the scoreboard in the worst way possible: he took a hooking penalty against Plekanec, effectively costing the Flames the man advantage.

Try as the Flames might, David Desharnais would score the inevitable empty netter. The Flames' win streak, and Giordano's point streak, were snapped at five and nine games respectively.

Thoughts

  • Okay, so shutouts suck, but this one wasn't as miserable as the last slew. In part because the Flames have built up a lot of good will as of late, in part because Carey Price had an outstanding game, in part because the game winning goal was such a fluke, and in part because the effort really was there, first period aside. That said, coming away with nothing after a two minute five on three is pretty bad, and there were only a couple of good chances on that entire powerplay.
  • Despite being on the ice for the game winner, Backlund had several outstanding defensive plays (including that one - he was simply unlucky) as he continues to distinguish himself as an excellent centre.
  • Giordano and Brodie sure are looking like a top pairing. On a really good team, they probably wouldn't be; but man, those two play the toughest minutes on the team and are almost always on-point. Brodie looks in over his head on occasion, but that's few and far between, and he's still only 23. It's hard to say if these two will still be considered the top defencemen on the team when the team gets competitive again (assuming that happens, and they're still here), but they'll be up there.
  • I've said it before, I'll say it again: Lance Bouma is the perfect fourth liner. With everyone healthy he'd probably be on the fourth line, but he's good enough to step up in case of injury. He's smart, too, and had a few scoring chances tonight simply by being in the right place, often right in front of the net at the right time.
  • Berra played well enough, and you can't blame him for the goal against. He looked awkward at times, but he's also Reto Berra; you just come to expect it. That said, the next game is against the Islanders, an opponent closer to the Flames in the standings, and Joni Ortio will have had a few practices under his belt by then. Put the kid in.

The Flames will be back at it Thursday in Long Island to face the Islanders. Might we see the Flames score a goal, as well as Joni Ortio's first NHL start? I sure hope so. Puck drop will be at 5 PM MST.

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