Things started off very well for the Flames in this game. After outshooting the Wild 11-2 early on, Alex Tanguay scored to put his team up 1-0 midway through the opening frame.
After that, the Flames decided there was no longer any need for offence, and it was practically a Minnesota shooting gallery for the remainder of the game, which is saying a lot considering the Wild are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league. They kept the Wild off the board until the third period thanks to some nifty goal line stick work from Mark Giordano and good penalty killing, but even when the Flames were on the powerplay (which they were, a lot), they were playing defence.
Joey MacDonald was Kiprusoff incarnate, stopping many a good Minnesota scoring chance and keeping his team in the game until the very end, when Jason Zucker scored to tie things up at one with under five minutes remaining. The Flames had only nine shots on goal in the final two periods combined, which is simply not good enough, especially considering they had two extended powerplays thanks to an elbowing major and a high-sticking major by Minnesota's Charlie Coyle and Jonas Brodin.
With the game tied at one late in the third period and both teams playing for the Bettman point, Mark Giordano went from hero to zero when he lost his stick in the defensive zone and covered the puck with his hand in an attempt to clear it away from a scrum of Wild players, resulting in a penalty under that ridiculous new NHL rule.
The Flames penalty kill, which has been much improved as of late, had managed to keep the talented Wild forwards off the board and even had a chance or two shorthanded, but if you get enough shots, eventually one of them is going to go in, and that's what happened for Minnesota. Just 27 seconds into overtime, Zach Parise, alone in front of the Flames net, got his lost goal back when he tipped a shot past MacDonald for the win.
The Flames are fairly lucky to have come out of this one a) with a point and b) unscathed as far as injuries go, as Coyle's hit on Matt Stajan could have been a lot more serious than it was, and Stajan returned to the game after requiring some assistance to leave the ice. Perhaps he should have been kept out for the rest of the game as a precaution but I suppose team staff will be keeping an eye on him ahead of tomorrow's game in Colorado. Of course there were a fair share of people who thought that Stajan embellished the hit to draw a major penalty, but there's little doubt that Coyle's shoulder came into contact with his head, which deserves a penalty regardless of intent.
I was slightly more impressed with the Flames' degree of aggressiveness in their own zone in this game, as they were much more active on the penalty kill and at even strength, forcing giveaways by the Wild and getting chances on odd-man rushes (although they were unable to capitalize). Clearing the puck, chipping it out and defensive zone giveaways remain weak points, however.
The Avalanche are up next, and the Flames will be looking to avoid a repeat of their epic late-game collapse the last time they played their Rocky Mountain rivals. This time, the Avs are looking a little more dangerous offensively, with the return of Gabriel Landeskog to the lineup.
See you all tomorrow!