Going into the match, the Devils sat in the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, three points behind eighth place Columbus and both with four games to go. The Flames did their part to deny the Devils a chance to challenge for the Cup.
The first few minutes would see the teams trade off chances up and down the ice, and it looked like a track meet was in the works (went to a Hockey game and a track meet broke out....hrm). Calgary earned themselves a four minute power play five minutes in when Ryan Carter high-sticked Lance Bouma, drawing some blood.
The ensuing power play would see the Flames put a few good shots in the vicinity of the goal, but after three minutes Karri Ramo accidentally flipped the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. The teams went four-on-four for just under a minute before the Devils enjoyed an abbreviated man-advantage.
After 15 seconds, Bouma tripped Toumo Ruutu to give the Devils a minute of five-on-three. Bob Hartley called a time out to get Calgary settled a little before facing the probable onslaught. 14 seconds later, Travis Zajac interfered with Mike Cammalleri, making the action four-on-three for a bit. Chris Butler knocked a possible shot-on-goal away before Ramo could get challenged, and the strange series of power plays and penalty kills ended with the score still knotted at zero.
Curtis Glencross got a pair of good chances against Devils net minder Cory Schneider at the 14-minute mark, followed by a bullet off the stick of Monahan, but neither found paydirt. Carter started celebrating a goal at the 18:34 mark, but it was immediately waved off due to his having kicked the puck. The call on the ice was upheld after a lengthy discussion with Toronto's War Room. The period ended without any more drama.
First Period Observations
- That Jagr character, if he keeps at it, could have a pretty good career.
- It's a real treat to watch the Flames get up for every game even though they know that they're playing for nothing but pride from here on out. The future is indeed bright.
- The MSG announcer called our favourite rookie "the dangerous Monahan." I think "The Dangerous Monahan" has got a nice ring to it.
- New Jersey's defense looks tough - I think "stout" is the term that I'm reaching for here.
- The Devils led shots-on-goal 12-7 and hits 6-4, while the Flames led the blocked shots category 3-2 and face-offs 9-8.
- Neither team stood out as the better combatant after one frame, both teams looked like they were playing to win.
The second frame was barely underway when Cammalleri was called for hooking Damien Brunner. The Devils got three quick shots on Ramo a moment later, but the netminder stood tough, making a spectacular toe save on Brunner from point blank to keep the game scoreless. Steve Bernier got a tricky shot right on the goal, but Ramo again came up strong with a nifty looking glove save.
At the 6:46 mark, the Flames got back on the man-advantage when Carter interfered with Cammalleri. The Devils penalty kill unit outshot the Flames power play with one shot to zero for Calgary. The Devils also cleared the puck six times over the two minutes, getting the crowd at the Rock back into the game.
The Devils outshot the Flames 8-to-0 through the first half of the period, but the Flames got eight of the next 10 shots to nearly even it up. With under two minutes remaining, Ken Agostino had a breakaway chance against Schneider, but was slashed by Jon Merrill, who was assessed two minutes instead of an opposing penalty shot. The Flames collected two shots on goal, and the Devils thrice cleared the puck as the period ended scoreless. There was still 26 seconds left on the power play.
Second Period Observations
- Ramo is having a spectacular game. The Devils can't seem to solve him. Unfortunately, Calgary is not making it very hard on Schneider.
- Kevin Westgarth was skating like a man with nothing to lose, going full tilt into the wall to avoid the Flames taking an icing penalty at the five minute mark.
- Calgary didn't make a shot on New Jersey's net until there was 10 minutes left in the period.
- Coming into tonight's contest, the Flames have won 17 of their last 28 games. They can't finish the season with a winning record, but lately, they have been giving us something to cheer for.
- New Jersey outshot Calgary 22-16, and won 20 face-offs to 19 for the Flames. Calgary outhit New Jersey 16-10, and had 10 blocked shots to five for the Devils. Monahan had four shots on goal, while Bryce van Brabant and Mark Cundari each had three hits.
Jiri Hudler dropped the puck back to Mark Giordano on the last rush of the power play, and Gio knuckled it through traffic to break the scoreless tie with 23 seconds gone in the third. It was Giordano's 14th goal of the campaign, and his seventh with a man-advantage. Cammalleri earned the other assist on the play.
Ramo got a little sloppy afterward, leaving the cage open for a well-positioned Ryan Carter on his right side, but Carter couldn't make the magic happen. Cammalleri got a chance a minute later, but aimed just a little too high, hitting the goal post.
Giordano may have prevented the New Jersey equalizer with a timely poke-check off the stick of Jaromir Jagr at the 10 minute mark. The Devils were crashing into the Flames zone with a three-on-one when Gio made the play.
The Devils were buzzing around the Flames net for nearly a full minute just past the 14-minute mark. Jagr was all over the place, driving up the middle, behind the net, sweeping wide, collecting rebounds - the guy frankly scares the crap out of me whenever he's near the puck.
New Jersey pulled the goaltender with about 1:20 left in the game, and launched a ferocious assault on Calgary. The Devils were just all over the place, but only got one official shot-on-goal during the onslaught.
Third Period Observations
- Jagr had a shift that was nearly 1:30 just after Giordano's goal. It's hard to believe that the guy is 42 years old.
- The shutout was the second of the season for Ramo, and the second of his career. This was a very well earned goose egg for the 27-year-old Finn. Reminder: he's the only goaltender that is contracted with the Flames organization past this season.
- At the end of that game, I was sweating, breathing hard, and bouncing on the couch. I was lucky not to wake the kids up with all of my carrying on.