The Flames closed out their three-game road trip in Dallas last night against a Stars club that had a formidable 12-3-3 record on home ice, and surprisingly, came back from a late 2-1 deficit to win in a shootout, closing out the pre-holiday portion of their schedule on a good note. Moreover, Flames blogger meet-ups are no longer winless! Rejoice!
What started off as a fairly dull first period was broken open (literally) at just over the seven-minute mark, when Jarome Iginla challenged Stars forward Jamie Benn after the latter crunched Mark Giordano into the boards in the offensive zone. The captain would end up getting the worst of the lengthy tilt with a cut below his eye, and would leave the ice for repairs, but he would return. (Listen the the hilarious reaction of the Stars' commentators here).
The Flames took the lead at the eleven-minute mark of the opening frame on Anton Babchuk's fifth goal of the season, a powerplay marker, but Dallas would get it back on a powerplay of their own with Tim Jackman and his two black eyes off for delay of game with under three minutes remaining in the period.
The visitors dominated the second period, out-shooting the Stars 10-2 despite getting into some penalty trouble late in the frame. Kiprusoff made a series of great saves with Matt Stajan off for tripping with just under two minutes remaining in the period, setting up an all-important final frame for the visitors deadlocked in a 1-1 tie.
Things went awry very quickly for the Flames in the third period, as Brenden Morrow would score just over two minutes in to give the Stars a 2-1 lead. After showing shades of Tuesday's loss to the Blue Jackets and failing to even things up on a powerplay with five and a half minutes remaining, it appeared the Flames were destined for their fourth consecutive loss before Alex Tanguay, sprung on a semi-breakaway with the goalie pulled and under two minutes to play, beat Lehtonen to tie the game at two.
After a scoreless OT period in which the Flames were out-shot 3-2, Miikka Kiprusoff continued his solid work in the shootout, stopping Loui Eriksson and then Brad Richards with a spectacular glove save after Tanguay scored to give the Flames the lead. After Hagman's attempt was stopped by countryman Kari Lehtonen, Dallas' final shooter Mike Ribeiro missed the net, sealing the well-deserved shootout victory for the Flames.
Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay ended up marginally in the red, going up against a myriad of Stars forwards, seeing the most of Steve Ott and Brad Richards. It appears that Brent Sutter tried to keep Iginla away from the shut-down line of sorts of Ribeiro, Morrow, and Eriksson while Tanguay saw a little more of them, but the effect on the pair's underlying numbers was negligible. Iginla finished -2 in Corsi and Tanguay, -3, while linemate Olli Jokinen somehow ended up +2. Tanguay played the most of the three at 22:13 on the night.
Nik Hagman and Ales Kotalik did surprisingly well for themselves last night; the pair saw the most of Brad Richards and came out on the positive side of things, firing a combined 11 shots on goal despite finishing pointless. Their linemate Matt Stajan was again fairly invisible, recording just one shot and 2 PIMS in 15 minutes of ice time, while nobody on the fourth line of Jackman, Moss, and Kostopoulos played more than nine and a half minutes. Bouwmeester and Giordano led the way for the Flames on the blueline, playing 28:22 and 27:38 respectively.
This win was just what the Flames needed heading into the Christmas break. Having outplayed the Stars practically the whole way, it looked like Calgary might be in for another hard-luck loss, but they came through. Tanguay got a break and capitalized on it. Kipper made some big saves when he needed to and was very solid positionally on the majority of Dallas' chances. Unlike recent games, the Flames kept pressing when they found themselves down early in the third rather than seemingly accepting defeat, which is as good a step forward as any for the time being, given the circumstances.
The Flames are now home for the holidays before taking on the Buffalo Sabres on December 27th and the Avs on New Year's Eve at the 'Dome to close out 2010.
Happy Holidays everyone and thank you all for making this site such a great place! See you on the 26th for the beginning of the World Juniors!