The Calgary Flames were in Ottawa tonight to take on the Senators. It was the return of T.J. Brodie as Ladislav Smid and Derek Grant were healthy scratches. Michael Ferland was officially placed on the IR along with Lance Bouma. Jonas Hiller started in net.
I didn't think that one defensive player could make a big difference on this team because there are many other aspects that have gone wrong. The first period proved me wrong. Brodie was stellar in his role on the blue line as he was paired up with Mark Giordano again. I took a sigh of relief. And Jonas Hiller looked confident in net, which gave me even more hope. The Flames played confident hockey and there was no score in the first period.
With the Sens putting a lot of pressure on the Flames at the beginning of the second period, Hiller made great saves while the rest of the team scrambled in front of him. After the delay of game penalty to Giordano, he made his way back onto the ice and the momentum changed. The Flames took possession of the puck and Dougie Hamilton scored to put the Flames on the board with a 1-0 lead. During a power play, Johnny Gaudreau was king of the ice, but he just couldn't buy a goal in spite of the many chances he had. Joe Colborne formed an effective barrier in front of the Ottawa net not just for one period, but for most of the night. Shots on net were in favour of the Flames midway through the period. After a few minutes of back and forth hockey, the Senators evened the score at 1-1. Before the period would expire, Ottawa would score again to make the score 2-1 going into the third.
With the Flames on the power play at the start of the last period, there were no goals scored until even strength, when Colborne knocked in a rebound that Anderson couldn't get to. And that's when Kris Russell showed up and slammed one into the back of the net and the Flames were up 3-2. But the lead didn't last long - 18 seconds to be exact - and the Senators tied the game again. It was a roller coaster of emotions on both sides as the floodgates opened and both teams fought hard to gain control. Bobby Ryan, of the Senators, crashed the Calgary net and left Hiller laying on the ice for a few minutes. With Hiller out of the game, Joni Ortio suited up. The Flames continued with their momentum and Sam Bennett tied the game at 4-4.
Onto overtime where the Flames pushed hard but couldn't quite get one past Anderson. And then Ottawa pushed back, but they couldn't solve a focused and determined Ortio. The dreaded shootout came quickly. Bobby Ryan was denied by Ortio to start, while Joe Colborne, the first shooter for the Flames, scored on Anderson. Kyle Turris scored for the Sens, and Gaudreau was denied by Anderson. The goals were tied as the last two shooters took their shots. Mike Zibanejad scored for Ottawa and the pressure was on Sean Monahan for the Flames. With Mony being stoned by Anderson, the Ottawa Senators went on to win with a score of 5-4 in the shootout.
T.J. Brodie spent over 25 minutes on ice, while Sam Bennett had 3 shots on net but he created a lot more chances on the opposition with his confidence and natural skills. Joe Colborne made a statement again with his aggressive play and his right-place-right-time regulation goal and his shootout goal. Dougie Hamilton stood his ground against opponents and fought hard for his space on the ice to help the team stay strong for a full 60 minutes throughout regulation. Even though the Calgary team is on a three-game losing streak, I don't think this will last too much longer if they continue to play the way they did tonight. Friday night could be a challenge, but you never know what will happen when a team is determined and hungry for a win.
Flame of the game
Sam Bennett. For his end to end chance on net in the third. He was a one-man show in the third period when he flew out from behind the Flames blue line, past the neutral zone, over the Senators blue line, and took a shot on net. There was no goal, but he didn't need any help in making that play either. He saw a chance and he took it and it was amazing to watch how he owned the puck.
The Calgary Flames are on their way home to host the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night and they will finish off the week in Edmonton as the Battle of Alberta is revisited.