The Buffalo Sabers have the unenviable task of trying to slow down the streaking Calgary Flames. The Flames are trying for their 4th in a row and 8th in a row at the Dome. The Flames found themselves down a man even before the game began. Jiri Hudler was a late scratch with flu like symptoms. This setback couldn't come at a worse time for the Flames forward who's been playing much better as of late. And in the spirit of last minute changes Jonas Hiller got the nod between the pipes over Kari Ramo. Hiller's last start was against San Jose where he was shelled.
The first period was fairly back and forth. The Flames tried to use their speed to their advantage, but couldn't mount much of an attack until the end of the period. The Flames power play continued to struggle, going 0-2 in the period. The second power play led to a few very good scoring opportunities, but the Flames came up empty. Johnny Gaudreau redirected a shot late in the period and took a pretty good hit which sent him flying backwards. Normally it wouldn't be much of a concern except David Jones was streaking in behind Gaudreau. Gaudreau's head collided with Jones' knee. #13 left the ice for the locker room with a little over a minute left.
With no score in the first period, Johnny returned to the bench but was hit again by the same Sabres player early in the middle frame. And then Ladislav Smid happened. One thing I really like about Smid is that, sooner or later, after questionable hits on his fellow Flames players, Smid gets revenge. It's not always in the same play, but he starts pushing and shoving his way through the opposition. Brandon Bollig also stepped up and roughed up the Sabres but ended up in the box for roughing. Jonas Hiller made save after save, keeping the Flames alive during the penalty kill. And how about Sam Bennett! In spite of some questionable penalties calls against him, he was throwing his weight around, making big hits, and taking shots on net. After a sweet shot on net by Brandon Bollig, Sean Monahan stepped in and scored the first goal of the game. With 7 seconds left in the period, Markus Granlund nets another one and the Flames were up 2-0.
The Sabres scored on a questionable infraction against Sam Bennett to put the visiting team within one. And they scored again during Sam's second penalty of the period. In Bennett's defense, the calls were questionable all night long against both teams - if they were even called at all. T.J. Brodie and Markus Granlund had a couple of good chances on net but couldn't finish. When Michael Frolik was hit from behind and skated to the bench bleeding, again there was no call. Enter Michael Ferland who started roughing up a few of the Sabres to police the action on ice. With a tied game, the Flames went on the defensive and worked the kinks out. Hiller looked more comfortable in net after the halfway point as well. With under ten minutes left in regulation, Gaudreau and Monahan stepped up the offense to give the Flames a one goal lead again, but the Sabres scored quickly after the puck deflected off of Dennis Wideman's skate. The game was locked at 3-3. With just under 5 minutes left in the game, our holier-than-thou savior, Johnny Gaudreau saved the day again and scored the game winning goal. The Flames took their 8th win at home, 4th consecutive win overall, by a score of 4-3.
Flame Of The Game
Joe Colborne. He stayed out of the sin bin tonight, earned an assist, tallied almost 21 minutes of ice time, and won 80% of his faceoffs. He showed an edge tonight that we usually don't get to see and he played smart hockey. His confidence level seems to have gone up in the past couple of games and I look forward to seeing more of it throughout the season.
The Flames host the NY Rangers on Saturday on Hockey Night In Canada in their last home game before they hit the road and travel before a short holiday break.