The Flames escaped Denver with what looked at one point to be a very unlikely 4-2 victory last night. After being down 2-1 early in the third period, they battled back, and they got the results they wanted this time thanks to a big night from the likes of Moss, Hagman, and Glencross, who started the evening on the fourth line after missing last Friday's game with an injury.
The first period didn't start off well for the visitors, as the Brandon Yip would tip in a shot from the point on an Avs powerplay to give the home team a 1-0 advantage just over four minutes in. The rest of the opening twenty minutes was fairly slow, with the Avs out-shooting the Flames 8-7, and the most entertaining part of it was probably Steve Staios dropping the mitts with Cody McLeod (and subsequently sitting for five minutes).
The Flames would even things up quickly on a powerplay of their own that carried over from the first period, when Glencross tipped in a Bouwmeester shot just 36 seconds into the middle frame. The going got tough from there on out for the good guys, however, as they failed to capitalize on several powerplay opportunities and were hemmed in their own zone for stretches of time while killing off several more against. Chances at EV ended up even at five a piece, but the Avs would outshoot the Flames 13-6 through forty minutes. The score remained tied at one thanks to some nifty work from Kiprusoff.
After a scrum at the end of the second period (which involved what I believe was Mikael Backlund's first career "fight") resulted in a 5-on-3 advantage for the home team, the Flames would find themselves down again just 1:25 into the final frame. Most of us probably thought the Flames were done for at this point, but Backlund changed the course of things when, uncovered in the slot, he potted a rebound off a Nik Hagman shot to tie to the game at two nine minutes in. It looked like we were headed to OT when David Moss was finally rewarded for his hard work since returning to the lineup, as he banged home a garbage goal with just over four minutes left to give the Flames their first lead of the game. After a few panicked minutes of pressure from the Avs, Glencross sealed the two points with his second of the night into an empty net to give the Flames the win.
It wasn't the prettiest game, but Calgary worked hard and got some overdue bounces, and Kipper was there when he needed to be, making 29 stops for the victory. Some thoughts and observations after the jump.
- Last night was by far the best game I've seen Nik Hagman play as a Flame, and possibly ever. He had two assists and eight shots on net, was all over every loose puck, and even blocked a few shots. He was a team-best +15 in Corsi and +8 in scoring chance differential--and he still only played 13:38 at EV! The line of Hagman, Backlund, and Moss was +31 and +14 respectively, and combined for five points.
- I really liked what I saw from Backlund last night, both in terms of his play and the emotion he showed in his scrap at the end of the second period and after scoring the game-tying goal. The club is being patient with him and I think it's going to pay off.
- As Kent notes in his scoring chance post, Iginla, Tanguay, and Stajan saw a lot of the Duchene line last night, and, along with Brendan Morrison (who played only 5:54 after being benched by Coach Sutter) were the only Flames skaters underwater in Corsi and scoring chances. Even Steve Staios was in the black.
- Out of Conroy, Jackman, and Morrison, nobody played more than six minutes last night, and that winning total belonged to Craig Conroy. I didn't particularly notice them in a positive or negative way, although they were a collective -3 in scoring chance differential, but Brent Sutter seems to think they were "fighting it," and he knows better than I do.
- Former Flames prospect David Van der Gulik left the game with a torn MCL last night. You have to feel for the guy; he was finally getting a look in the big league after paying his dues in the minors, and had just scored his first NHL goal five days earlier against the Canucks. Calgary product T.J. Galliardi also went down with a broken wrist following a collision with Jarome Iginla.
- I think this has been mentioned before either here or over at FN, but why are the Flames keeping Brett Sutter up with the big club if he's not going to play? Unless he's injured, there no sense in preventing him from getting some playing time down in Abbotsford, unless they're worried they'd lose him on waivers or something.
- Speaking of the Heat, they came back from a 2-0 deficit against the Houston Aeros last night to take the game 3-2 in a shootout with Bryan Cameron scoring the SO winner, and are now tied for first place in the North division. Before last night, the line of Greg Nemisz, Gaelen Patterson, and Lance Bouma had combined for nine points in their last three games (@camabbytimes)