After a few recent losses in which the Flames probably deserved a better result, things finally went their way last night in an impressive 7-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Flames out-shot and out-chanced the Blackhawks, and Jarome Iginla broke out of his scoring funk with a three-goal effort to give the good guys the two points.
The Flames didn't exactly get the start they wanted in this one, and it looked like they would end up on the wrong side of another contest with the 'Hawks when Jack Skille scored six minutes in to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Calgary fought back though, as Niklas Hagman would tie the game just over two minutes later before David Moss gave the Flames the lead with a powerplay goal, his second of the season, at 12:58. The home side fired an impressive 18 shots on Marty Turco in the first period, and would not let up in the second, as Iginla scored twice in the middle frame to add to his team's lead.
In the third, the Flames fell into somewhat of a shell, and were out-shot 16-6 by the Hawks, although they still managed to add three more goals, courtesy of Iginla, Morrison, and Glencross, all in the final four minutes of the game. Chicago would score late, but it would do little to make the final more respectable on their part. The Flames were shorthanded only twice in this game and scored two goals with the man advantage, a commendable special teams effort against a team like the Blackhawks.
This was by far the team's most complete and dominant effort since the 4-0 win over San Jose, and it came against a pretty good team to boot. Iggy, Tanguay, and Stajan were reunited and went up against the Toews line, predictably finishing underwater in Corsi and scoring chances, but at least they kept them off the score sheet. The only Flames that finished in the black were Backlund, Hagman, and Bourque, who were a combined +19 in Corsiand +3 in scoring chance differential, which is kind of surprising given that the shot and chance totals finished in favour of the Flames, but I think the results are swayed somewhat by the third period shell we saw. Hagman was particularly good, finishing the game with a goal and an assist and four shots on goal going up against the likes of Marian Hossa and seeing quite a lot of Duncan Keith as well.
Needless to say it was great to see such a strong game from the Captain last night. Despite finishing on the wrong side of things Corsi and scoring chance wise, Iggy led the team with six shots on net and was +2 in just under 18 minutes of ice time. New Flame Anton Babchuk finished the game +1 in EV scoring chance differential, and had two shots on goal in 17:05 minutes of ice time, seeing a fair bit of Hossa, David Bolland, and Patrick Sharp. Tom Kostopoulos was -1 and had one shot on net, and also finished +1 in scoring chances despite being tied with Matt Stajan and Brendan Morrison for a team-worst -14 in Corsi.
As well as ending a four-game losing streak, this was definitely a bit of a moral victory for the Flames--a blow-out win over a team they hadn't beaten in two years and hadn't beaten at home in four--and hopefully it will set the tone for their upcoming five-game road trip. We were once again reminded of what this team is capable of when they commit to playing a certain way for sixty-minutes, but the fact that that very occurrence is unpredictable in and of itself is what makes this team so frustrating to follow. It's like an inconsistency within an inconsistency. Topped off with the fact that most players' performances also vary on a game-to-game basis, I honestly don't know what kind of results we can reasonably expect on this road trip. The team enjoys a day off today before an afternoon affair at the Joe Louis tomorrow.