The last time the Flames and Ducks met, the Flames scored four goals in the first period en route to beating the Ducks 7-2. It was fun and hilarious. The teams' final meeting of the season, and Teemu Selanne's last-ever game in Calgary, however, would prove to be a much tamer, but still pretty gosh darn good game.
The game kicked off with some shenanigans from Calgary's fourth line. After Anaheim's Sami Vatanen lost the puck in his feet, both Brian McGrattan and Kevin Westgarth got a few good whacks at it on net. Following that, it was former Flame and guy-who-Westgarth-was-brought-in-to-replace Tim Jackman getting a few good whacks at Westgarth as the two tussled, ending with a Jackman takedown.
That little bit aside, the Flames controlled the majority of the first period, outshooting and out-Fenwicking the Ducks for most of the period. Sean Monahan, in particular, was rather noticeable in generating chances alongside Joe Colborne, while the Cammalleri - Backlund - Byron line did some excellent work as well.
The Flames were doing really well until Ladislav Smid nailed Jackman into the zamboni door in the Flames' zone. He was called for an illegal hit to the head, as he really drove into him - not a good hit. Jackman stayed down for a bit, but would be fine.
The Flames, on the other hand? Well, with TSN ramping up the Flames' home PK so much - and in fairness, it had only give up 11 goals all season, so it was a deserved topic of discussion - it was only a matter of time. Nick Bonino dragged the puck, getting it around TJ Brodie and putting the Ducks up 1-0 with a perfect shot.
While the Flames dominated the first period, the Ducks had control of the second. Well, that's not entirely accurate - Karri Ramo had control of the second, as he thwarted the Ducks at every turn, stopping all 16 of their shots.
Ramo, and Lance Bouma. The young forward got some pretty crucial penalty kill time, saved at least one goal, and did what he does best: block lots of shots. And to go with the young forward was the young defenceman, Tyler Wotherspoon, getting some major ice time and making some major defensive plays.
But this period really was the Ramo show.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the ice, Brian McGrattan? Scored, setting a new career high in goals with his fourth on the year. Fourth!
The Flames came back to life towards the end of the period. Curtis Glencross got a surprise breakaway, but Jonas Hiller was there to perform some heroics of his own. Those heroics were not to last long, as with just under 30 seconds to go, a scrambling Hiller fell victim to a perfect pass from Smid and an absolute bullet from Jiri Hudler to put the Flames up 2-1.
Just a little over five and a half minutes into the third, the Ducks tied it up. Mathieu Perreault scored after Ramo couldn't control the rebound, and Smid was busy tying Ramo up instead of doing something useful like clearing the puck.
Smid giveth, and Smid taketh away. He would actually leave the game for a bit after a shot block, but returned. (This team, uh, blocks a lot of shots. They blocked 20 tonight.)
With just over five minutes to go, Andrew Cogliano pounced on a massive rebound given up by Ramo, scoring the Ducks' third of the game and giving them the lead.
Down by one, the Flames did what they always do: try, and try hard. When the Ducks were called for icing with 1:21 left in the game, the Flames set up shop with six skaters right away. The puck never left the offensive zone as Hiller was peppered with a flurry of shots. While the Flames didn't tie it, and ultimately fell to Anaheim by a goal, it was exactly the type of game you want to see: one filled with hard work, good chances by rookies and veterans alike, and an outstanding fight to the finish.
There's the 44th one goal game for the #Flames. One away from tying a franchise record in a season. 21-16-7 is the record.— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) March 27, 2014
- Since this is Selanne's final season, it's also his last game in Calgary. The Saddledome gave him a tribute video, and he received a standing ovation. Cool to see for an opposing player, and what a legend the guy is.
- And to speak of a totally different player, tonight was Brian McGrattan's 300th game. He scored his 10th career goal. He generated enough chances to score a hat trick tonight (which, obviously, would have been his first). Hey, if you've gotta have a goon, it's gotta be Big Ern. Awesome guy, awesome fighter, not the greatest player but there's something to say for having as many goals as David Clarkson at a fraction of the cost, eh?
- Your top possession performers of the night? The Mike Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - Paul Byron line crushed it, generating a combined 66 shot attempts while only giving up 20. On D, the usuals, TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano, held down the fort, on ice for 48 shot attempts for and 23 against: easily the best of all Flames defencemen.
- Joe Colborne and Sean Monahan are really looking like they could be linemates in the future. Colborne has shown noticeable improvement since being moved to the wing, and he and Monahan have worked really well together. They definitely showed it in this game, generating a number of chances.
- On a really good team, Lance Bouma is probably a fourth liner. On the Flames, he's bounced around all four lines, and while he doesn't have quite the scoring touch to be a regular top six guy, he's not a mess when playing at that level, either. He's a real trustworthy, heart-and-soul grinder.
- Let's talk Tyler Wotherspoon. Playing just his 11th NHL game, the rookie defenceman has four assists and a three game point streak, his latest coming off a great shot that bounced off two members of the fourth line and in. He's barely noticeable out on the ice, and when you see him, he's making a great defensive play. He's up with the Flames on emergency recall to replace Dennis Wideman, and he's probably performing better than a healthy Wideman would be right now, anyway. He played 17:24 tonight - the lowest of the Flames' defencemen, but by a fairly small margin, and was dead even at 50% corsi.
- Seriously, Karri Ramo had a hell of a game. He stopped 31 of 34 shots on net for a .912 save percentage, but that doesn't do his game justice. Only one of the goals he let in was on the powerplay. He had a flawless second period, which was actually the Ducks' best period in terms of generating shots. Barring any unforeseen moves, Ramo is the Flames' starter for this year, and likely the next as well, and he's earned it.
The Flames lost, but this doesn't even count as a tank. It might not be the best feeling in the dressing room right now, but this is a team that should be proud of itself, and will try to keep that going when they host the Rangers Friday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.