First off, happy Valentine’s Day to all you couples out there. And happy I’m-glad-I’m-single-and-don’t-have-to-deal-with-this Day to the rest of you.
Tonight is a very important game for the Calgary Flames for at least three reasons:
1. It’s a divisional battle and the Flames need to regain control of their playoff fate.
2. Brandon Bollig has been scratched and if they lose, Bob Hartley may never scratch him again.
3. It’s the Vancouver Canucks. We hate them.
It would also be nice to bounce back from the hard loss faced on Thursday at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.
The last time the squads battled, the Flames ended a nine game losing-to-the-Nucks streak thanks to the very capable Joni Ortio, in his first NHL game (and shutout) of the season.
What's a Vancouver-Calgary game without a little fight to get things started? Just a little scuffle that involved Paul Byron and Joe Colborne sans gloves. Colborne and Luca Sbisa off with five minute majors for fighting. See Hartley - we don't need Bollig! But seriously, I live for Canucks/Flames fights like I live for Jonathan Quick tantrums.
Nice chances with Josh Jooris and Curtis Glencross, after which the Canucks responded with a rush of their own - which led to a penalty. Derek Dorsett with goaltender interference - with his luck, it's surprising that Karri Ramo didn't get injured. Anyway, Calgary powerplay!
The PP wasn't nearly as exciting as that last sentence. There were a few chances, the best coming near the end of the two minutes with Mason Raymond (the man with the golden stick recently) and Mark Giordano. Two shots on goal.
A few chances either way, and another penalty. This time with Linden Vey tripping Kris Russell. Looked rough going into the boards but he protected himself well.
The powerplay did not start out well - the puck was in the defensive zone more than offensive. And then we got chances! But Dennis Wideman one timers are becoming much too predictable. They fared slightly better this time with four shots on goal.
Too bad Daniel Sedin was tripped up by Wideman shortly after.
And we see why the Canucks are ranked first in the league for giving up the least shorthanded goals (1). The Flames were barely able to get a line change in when they finally cleared it... to the neutral zone. At least they were limited to one shot on net.
Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau had a 2-on-1 developing, but Dan Hamhuis laid on the pass. What transpired after was a result of poor positioning by Wideman, as Ronalds Kenins snuck one past Ramo. Too bad, Ramo looked solid for most of the period.
The period would end with a score of 1-0 for Vancouver, though shots were 11-8 for the Flames, and Corsi was even 20-20.
There was a bit of fun to start when Alexander Edler lost his stick and his teammates ended up passing his stick away from him as he tried to recover.
Deryk Engelland did a thing and got the puck up the ice to Jiri Hudler. Ryan Miller was able to save Johnny's shot, but didn't see Christopher Tanev coming at him. Tanev nearly carried the puck into the net with him, and Monahan just poked it in milliseconds before the net came out. Good call by the video reviewers. It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it.
Raphael Diaz was tripped on a no-call, which resulted in a 3-on-1 for the Canucks. And may we all say thanks to Ramo for that save on Jannik Hansen.
Annnd another scrum. Perhaps the players all just really want to wish eachother a Happy Valentine's Day and that's why they need to get their faces so close.
WHAT A NICE GOAL. Just watch the passing. And watch Johnny's positioning to just get Miller thinking about him on the other side.
Engelland did another thing! That was a nice pass to Hudler. Man, Miller is solid.
Ramo dove on the puck to get the whistle. This led to Matt Stajan cross-checking Daniel Sedin in front of Ramo. Unsurprisingly, Sedin didn't like that and retaliated in the same way. Oh goodie - another scrum! This one resulted in a 4-on-4 with both Stajan and Sedin off for unsportsmanlike conduct.
While the Flames are leading the league with 11 goals in 4-on-4 situations, the Canucks would capitalize on a lucky rebound (unlucky if you're Ramo) with Vey tapping in on an empty net.
The period ended with Gaudreau trying to decapitate, or at least seriously injure, Miller, with a shot straight in the facemask that took his helmet right off.
Score: 2-2. Shots: 14-13 for the Flames. Corsi: 20-18 for the Canucks. Close game all around.
The Calgary Third Periods entered with a tie game.
AND succeed. Mikael Backlund shot the puck at Miller and got the rebound to David Jones who found Lance Bouma in the slot, just hanging out. Nice quick release, and goal.
There were good chances both ways for most of the period. A few too close for comfort from the 'Nucks. And another scrum. Or maybe just more whispering of sweet nothings' into one anothers ears. It is Valentine's Day after all.
With about three minutes left, the Canucks were rolling four forwards and one defence, desperate for a goal. And Miller was pulled with just under two minutes left.
Too bad the Canucks played back well enough that Monahan wasn't able to get the hat trick. No insurance goals to be had.
One last shot from Hamhuis on Ramo that gave the 'dome a heart attack. Thank goodness for Ramo, he didn't lose his composure and kept the lead for the win.
Flames win with a score of 3-2. Even shots in the third, 9 each. Total shots: 34-30 for the Flames. Vancouver out-corsied in the third, 20-17. Total Corsi: 60-55 for the Canucks.
- Bob Hartley must read M&G. Bollig ended up scratched, AND Ramo started over Hiller. Today was a good day.
- In other news, Sam Bennett was in green on the team skate this morning. He's graduated from the yellow 'no-contact' jersey, will we see him soon?
- Last season's Hockey Day in Canada Canucks-Flames game started with fights before the first face-off. There was a fight early on in this one too. They do not disappoint on the rivalry aspect.
- Raymond was playing well again. He registered four shots on goal but didn't get any points tonight.
- The Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler line generated a lot of offense tonight. Papa Huds and his sons.
- Russell and Wideman were split up for some of the game. Diaz and Wideman, Russell and Engelland. Hartley's mixing up the defence. I don't hate it. Diaz is moving on up. First the first PP unit, now the second pairing.
Flames of the Game:
This was a tough one, we had a few guys stand out tonight, which is a good problem to have. Ramo looked solid in net on the first game he's started in a while. He definitely proved himself more than capable, with 28 saves on 30 shots for a .933 SV%. But the Flame of the Game is going to golden-child-with-perfect-hair Sean Monahan. He played 15:02 of ice time, registered three shots on goal, and... most importantly, scored two goals. Those bring his total goals of the season up to 19, looking for 20 and a hat trick. He still has yet to score more than two goals in a game, but that is quite alright. All season he has been proving himself and breaking the sophomore slump. All while maintaining great hair.
... nothing. Keep the lines the same, Bob. Cycle your goalies, give Jonas Hiller a break. Ramo is capable.