An improbable victory for the Flames and a blatant theft of two points. This one will be another of the memorable games of the season. Somehow the Flames have taken 4 points from the Canucks in their last two games. A largely AHL Flames squad stood tall against the lethal Canucks and hung on for victory.
No one going into this game was expecting the Flames to win. Most were likely praying for a single point at best, to snag a full two points? Beyond dreaming.
A heavy price was paid with Mikael Backlund taking a upper-body injury and from the look of it a shoulder injury. The Flames have recently lost Blair Jones and Mikael Baklund to injury leaving a decimated Center corps remaining.
The Flames today sit in 9th spot in the West as their reward and will take a well earned two days off. It was a heart stopping game all the way through to the final shoot-out save by Kipper. You missed a good one, if you missed this one.
The First Period
The Flames came out strong in the first, not dominating, but strong. The game was balanced and the Canucks looked casual while the Flames were skating. The scoring chances were 3 to 2 for the Flames but they made their chances count with Mike Cammalleri driving to the net and his own rebound deflecting off him for the Flames first goal of the game.
Lance Bouma dropped the gloves to dance with Mike Duco to set the tone that this game was going to be a battle early on.
The Second Period
Started much the same as the first with the Flames holding their own. Brent Sutter had revealed at this point that he was more or less matching his top line against the Sedins. The Flames earned another goal that caught Roberto Luongo looking the wrong way as Lance Bouma dug out the puck from behind the net and passed it up to Roman Horak for his 3rd goal of the season.
Somehow the Flames were up 2-0 and holding their own in the game. A head scratcher to a degree but understandable given the play in what was a relatively balanced game at this point.
Then Mikael Backlund took a shoulder injury and left the game and the ice seemed to tilt with it. The Flames failed to score on a long 4 minute power play and that seemed to be a turning point. The Canucks possession of the puck and quick transition game became more and more evident as the period went on.
At about the 18:00 min mark of the period a tired Flames squad, a line change behind, was finally caught and Cody Hodgson got the Canucks on the board and the pressure was like a tidal wave for the final few minutes of the 2nd frame. Somehow the Flames held on and went to the dressing room up 2-1 despite being out chanced 8-5.
The Third Period
This frame was mainly Canucks from the get go, out chancing the Flames 6-2. David Booth tied the game up at the 8 min mark and it was now clock counting time for Flames fans.
It was at this time when it became horrifically obvious what was on the ice for the Flames, watching Ryan Kesler battle it out with (pause) Roman Horak? Lets call it what it was, the Heat vs the Canucks and it was to say the least, highly improbable that this AHL collection in the 2nd and 3rd lines was going to beat an elite NHL team.
A heart stopping final frame where time ticked on and victory was already had for the Flames by making it to OT and getting the single point. Jarome Iginla had a glorious chance earlier on a break-away but Luongo had the save.
The OT and the Shoot-Out
The Flames had their chances but soft calls on Jay Bouwmeester and Henrik Sedin had an odd OT period of 3 on 3 for a good chunk of time. It would go to the shoot-out and Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla this time would make no mistake in beating Luongo.
Kipper and the goal posts did the rest for Calgary and to the amazement of all, the Flames came out with not a single point but two points.
Somehow the Flames won this one but the cost was huge with the lose of Backlund. Going forward it is going to be interesting to see how they respond with such a depleted center ranks. Will Feaster go to market for something? If it is confirmed that Backlund is out with a separated shoulder, that will likely be at least 10 games. Jones is probably gone for the season if his ankle is fractured as reported.
The Flames must continue to roll if they want the playoffs but can this new Flames team, composed of a ton of rookies at this point, step up for the task? Does Feaster play the odds and sell now at the deadline or does he continue to push as a buyer by getting a NHL center to re-stock his decimated forward ranks? *cough* Jeff Carter *cough*
Time will tell. It is likely Paul Byron will be called up and at that point half the Flames forward ranks lack any significant NHL experience. The season is in the next few weeks, tune in because the log-jam in the West has no margin for error, whoever starts to slide at this point will not elbow their way back into such a tight race...