Both the Islanders and the Flames are riding out their seasons now with an eye to the draft, and their rosters tonight were full of young kids getting some solid playing time. It wasn't a great 60 minutes, but there were some standout moments for the Flames' eight (!) rookies—the first time they've had 8 kids in the lineup since December 1996, when Jarome Iginla was a little baby Flame—including a few great saves by Joni Ortio and goals by Granlund and Monahan. The game started later than advertised due to the Joe Nieuwendyk "Forever a Flame" ceremony, and that meant the Flames were also wearing their retro jerseys, AKA the best jerseys in the whole world ever.
The Flames found themselves on the penalty kill barely a minute into the first period when Sean Monahan took a tripping call; halfway into the penalty, Ortio sent the puck flying down the ice and Markus Granlund would capitalize, first firing a blocked shot and then knocking a pass from Paul Byron into the back of the net. The goal extended Granlund's point streak to three games, going back to his assist on Monday night against the Wild. Ortio would be awarded the assist (!!!), the young goalie's first-ever NHL point. Goalie!
The Islanders generated more offensive pressure toward the end of the powerplay, and Josh Bailey had a terrific chance that ended up ringing loudly off the crossbar—he'll be thinking about that one for a while. Max Reinhart had a post of his own midway through the period, his young linemates putting on a remarkable amount of pressure on the Islanders top line (Grabner, Nielsen, Okposo).
A scramble behind Ortio's net late in the period led to an awkward pass to Kyle McDonald, who flipped it behind the young netminder to tie the game at 1.
The Flames went on the powerplay early in the second period, but failed to convert, although they managed some shots on net. As the penalty ended, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo charged on a 2-on-1 and Okposo got the better of Ortio to put the Islanders up 2-1. Not long afterward, Brock Nelson roofed it after a bad Ben Hanowski giveaway and the Isles would carry a 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
Flames fans were ready to assume the draft positions would not be in jeopardy, but I'm going to let tweets by Dan Saraceni of Lighthouse Hockey narrate the third period for you:
The funny thing is that there are disappointed Flames fans that don't know that the #Isles are going to blow this lead.— Dan Saraceni (@cultureoflosing) March 8, 2014
@MatchsticksCGY You should be. The Flames will win this game. I've seen this movie before.— Dan Saraceni (@cultureoflosing) March 8, 2014
Mark Giordano's pass to Joe Colborne results in a goal, 3-2 Islanders:
Yup. Here it comes. Flames will have this game tied in 2 minutes.— Dan Saraceni (@cultureoflosing) March 8, 2014
T.J. Galiardi feeds to Sean Monahan skating right through the crease:
.@matchsticksCGY I told you.— Dan Saraceni (@cultureoflosing) March 8, 2014
Joe Colborne would score again minutes later to put the Flames up 4-3, making it his first multi-goal game in the NHL. Ever. While the Islanders fought in the dying moments—Travis Hamonic hit another post, and Frans Nielsen missed the resulting empty net, in an agonizing display of "almost"—the Flames' comeback stayed intact. Three unanswered goals in a few minutes in the third period and the Isles were buried. Shots on goal were 26-23 narrowly favouring New York.
Can't say that wasn't at least a little exciting.
The Flames are back in action tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks, newly in "lol what" mode after trading away Roberto Luongo and getting shellacked 6-1 last night by the Dallas Stars. Luongo, by the way, led the Panthers to their first shutout in 124 games tonight (one hundred and twenty-four).
I'd suggest a drinking game involving mentions of the line brawl that happened the last time the Flames were at Rogers, but we'd all be dead before puck drop, so don't do that. 8PM MT/10PM ET on Hockey Night!