Tonight, the Calgary Flames met the Carolina Hurricanes: one team looking for its first home win, the other looking for its first... win. The Hurricanes are suffering some significant injuries, so they probably weren't expecting to be this bad, but the Flames? They had a pretty good night.
Remember the game against Tampa? Well, this one started off in much the same way, with very little happening. Carolina had the initial pressure, but eventually Calgary - and especially Paul Byron - started driving pucks towards the Hurricanes' net.
Just over 11 minutes in, we finally had a meaningful whistle. Chris Terry grabbed Dennis Wideman's stick, didn't let go for some reason, and kind of dragged Wideman with him. It was an easy holding the stick call, sending the Flames to the first powerplay of the game. The powerplay exhibited some great puck control - especially between TJ Brodie, Mark Giordano, and Johnny Gaudreau - and constantly directed the puck towards the net, but with so many bodies in front of Cam Ward, the Hurricanes blocked many of the attempts, and Ward had the rest.
Right after the penalty was killed, Matt Stajan gave the puck away to Jeff Skinner right in the defensive zone. Skinner was wide open for a perfect shot, but an even more perfect glove from Jonas Hiller kept the game scoreless.
It was pretty much all Flames after that. With the period winding down, Wideman absolutely blasted it from the point and past Cam Ward, already matching his goal total from last season and putting the Flames up 1-0. The period ended with Calgary outshooting Carolina 10-4, and out-corsiing them 21-9.
The period opened with a bang. Just 32 seconds in, a Justin Faulk giveaway led to a Byron and Stajan 2 on 1. Byron dished it over to Stajan, who had a wide open net to bury it in, putting the Flames up 2-0.
The Hurricanes followed it up with Skinner once again advancing to try to beat Hiller, but Wideman covered him perfectly, and Skinner couldn't even get a shot off.
Carolina's night went from bad to worse. Just a few minutes later Joe Colborne, from behind the net, passed to Jiri Hudler. Hudler saw Sean Monahan streaking in behind Ward and a few other Canes, and made a perfect pass over to the 20-year-old for the sophomore's first of the year. 3-0 Flames.
This was followed up by Faulk hooking down Mason Raymond. The Flames spent pretty much the entire powerplay in the Hurricanes' zone, moving the puck and controlling the play, but were unable to add to their lead. Stajan then tripped Alexander Semin, giving Carolina their first powerplay of the game, and it was... significantly worse than the Flames'. Needless to say, it was killed.
The Hurricanes started to show a bit more life, and a lot of traffic around Hiller's net led to another good chance by Skinner, but that was about it. The Curtis Glencross - Stajan - Byron line went back to work (I think Stajan likes playing with them), creating chances. The Canes seemed just kind of done - with only seven seconds left in the period, they gave the puck away to the fourth line, and while Ward kept the gates shut, that's just not something that should happen.
The period ended with the Flames leading 19-11 in shots, and 36-22 in corsis.
Aaaand... things didn't get better for Carolina. Just over three minutes into the frame, the puck came out from behind the net, and 2013 sixth overall Monahan out-battled 2013 fifth overall Elias Lindholm for it, scoring his second of the game and putting the Flames up 4-0.
Not even two minutes later, Josh Jooris was speeding down the boards. He threw the puck towards the net, and Lance Bouma, who was charging it, tipped it in for his first of the year, and the Flames were suddenly up 5-0.
Stajan hooked down John-Michael Liles. The powerplay did nothing for the Hurricanes, as they got no shots on net, and in fact, the best scoring chance of the two minutes belonged to Byron.
With the game pretty much decided, the rest of the third wasn't too exciting. The Hurricanes really started pressuring with just a few minutes left, trying to break Hiller's shutout bid, but they're no Chicago. The game ended with the Flames trying, and sadly failing, to feed Monahan for his first career hat trick.
The score stayed 5-0, with the Flames outshooting the Canes 24-16, and out-corsiing them 47-38. Sorry, Carolina - but we're definitely cheering for you guys to get your first win of the season tomorrow.
Flame of the game
In a relatively easy game for the Flames, there weren't really a ton of standouts. Most of the team played, well, really well. So let's go with the best offensive player of the night: Sean Monahan, who had his second multi-goal game of his career (his first came in a 2-1 OT win against Edmonton, which was awesome). He had excellent chemistry with his linemates, and his three shots were good to tie for second on the team, all while receiving some of the poorest zone starts. He played 15:09 - second for Flames centres, behind just Mikael Backlund - and played in all situations. Good game for him to finally get pucks past the net.
- Colborne things that work: screening on the powerplay, because he's huge and has pretty good hands (see: shootouts); having him play on Monahan's wing, where he left off last season. Why'd it take this long to get back to that? Whatever, keep doing that, it's great and the two work well together. Also he's tied for the league lead in assists with eight. Still no goals, but that's nearly an assist a game. Good trade Toronto!
- Never put Stajan on the fourth line again. He works great with real linemates; especially when one of them is Byron, who was, once again, one of the Flames' best possession players. Byron isn't really putting pucks in the net, but make no mistake: he's good, and they'll probably start going in for him this year. He's a great player though. Actually made the Robyn Regehr trade, well, worth it. He had amazing chemistry with Backlund as well; maybe he just kind of works really well with everyone?
- The Flames took their first penalties since the first period against the Winnipeg Jets: the one that pretty much got Rafa Diaz benched and sent back to the pressbox. And it was Stajan with both of them. Huh. Still, don't take his linemates away from him please!
- The Brodie - Giordano pairing got a break. Actually, all of the defencemen played pretty much 20 minutes tonight. Really evenly spread out, but considering the score, they could obviously afford it.
- Hiller wasn't really challenged tonight, but a shutout's a shutout, and after an iffy start, he's stopped the last 99 of 101 pucks he's faced over three games. He's completely elevated the team's goaltending, and is actually really fun to watch. Outstanding free agent pickup; without him, the Flames would definitely be a lot closer to Connor McDavid... but there's always the lottery.
- There are too many Sutters. This was Brody's second game. When the Hurricanes first drafted Brody, they still had both Brandon (now in Pittsburgh) and Brett (now in Minnesota). I really wanted a Brett - Brandon - Brody line, and there was hope once, but now it'll probably never happen and I blame Carolina. They deserved to lose 5-0 just for that.
Next game wishes
Unrealistic: So... can we do that again? The Flames now have a goal differential of +6. That's awesome. I like having a positive goal differential. Let's get it to double digits!
Realistic: Keep these forward lines! Keep Colborne on Monahan's wing, the two of them worked great with Hudler. Stajan had an excellent game when he was given real linemates. Hell, even the new fourth line performed really well together. Just don't mess with that. And if you have to, for the love of god, just don't put Stajan back on the fourth line. He doesn't deserve that.
Well, one of those things will probably happen. But the last time the Flames played the Washington Capitals, they won 5-2, so... That's the next game. Saturday, Oct. 25. Flames. Capitals. Hockey Night in Canada. Hopefully it'll be as fun as this one!