Having finally slipped out of a playoff spot, the Flames were looking to get back on track and stay in the race before it slipped too far away. In their second stop on this seven game road trip, they faced the suddenly hot New Jersey Devils, winners of four straight coming into tonight. There was definitely a playoff atmosphere in the air, even if the Prudential Center was slightly empty..
The first period began rather slowly for both teams, with no one getting a shot attempt until about two minutes in. After getting something on net, the Flames took control of the game in the first few minutes. They eased through the neutral zone, and kept the Devils at bay on defence. New Jersey’s first shot attempt came about five minutes into the game. It was not a very typical Flames first period, but that’s a good thing.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Flames game without a little bit of truculence. With Brandon Bollig out of the lineup, Curtis Glencross decided to showcase his punching abilities to the many scouts in the audience. After a bit of jarring with Travis Zajac, the two dropped the gloves for a quick brawl, and went off to the penalty box for five minutes.
Shortly after, Raphael Diaz gave Glencross some company after getting a high sticking call. The Flames weren’t very good at the penalty kill, allowing the Devils to set up some great scoring chances. Thankfully, Karri Ramo is a wonderful goalie. The Flames killed the penalty without any damage done.
For the most part, the Flames controlled possession. The stretch passes were working. One from hometown hero Johnny Gaudreau set Jiri Hudler up on the breakaway, but he was stuffed by Cory Schneider. That would happen a lot this game.
Another stretch pass attempt ended poorly. Brodie passed it to Glencross, who couldn’t find the puck. It was taken away by Jordin Tootoo, who found himself one-on-one with Brodie. A nifty little back pass to former friend Mike Cammalleri resulted in a goal between Ramo’s legs. 1-0 Devils
The Flames got a late gift from the Devils after Adam Larsson went off for tripping shortly after the Devils scored. The powerplay didn’t really do anything, but it was nice to see Emile Poirier get some powerplay time. The period ended with New Jersey leading in shots 10-9 and goals 1-0, but the Flames were leading in corsi 19-15.
The second began with just a few ticks left on the powerplay, but Calgary was still playing well. The first line of Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler was especially on their game today, driving play north and camping out in the New Jersey zone. Another successful line was the Ferland-Granlund-Poirier line, who were very good on both ends. Beginning in the second, Hartley swapped Markus Granlund with Mikael Backlund. Hopefully Bob is starting to see the benefits of playing your rookies.
There was more back and forth play in the second period, with each team getting multiple fast breaks. Karri Ramo and Cory Schneider stuffed all of them. No one could get by them tonight. Despite no scoring, it was very fun to watch. However, the Devils were slowly getting back into the possession department, and had some very good chances this period.
The second was full of interesting moments. Emile Poirier laid a big hit on poor Travis Zajac, who was getting roughed up this game. Deryk Engelland made his usual boneheaded mistake and tripped over Josh Jooris, setting up a Jaromir Jagr chance that was turned aside by Ramo. Cammalleri nearly scored again after a slapshot of his hit the post.
Someone finally scored in the final moments of the period, and thankfully it was the Flames. It started with a nice zone entry by Joe Colborne, who then sent a nice backhanded pass straight across the ice to Curtis Glencross for a tap in goal. 1-1 Flames
And with that, the period ended. Shots were even at 9-9, and corsi was also equal at 15-15. Totals were 19-18 in shots for New Jersey, and 34-30 in corsi for Calgary.
The Flames began the third period on the powerplay, after a Jon Merrill slashing penalty was called after the second was over. It took 35 seconds for the Flames to score. The hero on the play was Sean Monahan, who saved the puck from leaving the zone and then set himself up for a nice deflection from a Giordano pass. 2-1 Calgary.
It was a truly wonderful goal for the stats department. It was the Flames’ second goal in 49 seconds of game time. More importantly, Mark Giordano’s assist pushed him to 48 points on the season, breaking his previous high. He’s the best.
The third period continued to be a fast paced period, favouring the Flames. There were an abundance of breakout plays, including a Curtis Glencross and Jiri Hudler two-on-one which nearly resulted in another goal. A little bit later, Johnny Gaudreau found himself one-on-one with Schneider, but was also denied. Cory Schneider is a very good goaltender.
Johnny Gaudreau’s homecoming was ruined after Johnny Goondreau showed up. A holding penalty saw him sit in the box for two minutes. Guy Gaudreau, his father (his entire family was at the game, and Sportsnet showed them in the stands at every possible opportunity) was visibly disappointed.
Guy cheered up because of the Flames’ stellar penalty kill. The Devils were getting some chances, but Ramo refused to let anything in. It was not all on his shoulders this time, as Mikael Backlund also helped out. He iced the puck twice in addition to taking away every passing lane. Extend this man.
#Flames kill the penalty, 24th consecutive kill over the last 12+ games.— Randy Sportak (@SUNRandySportak) February 26, 2015
Stellar goaltending continued to be the theme of the game. Cory Schneider stone cold stuffed Josh Jooris late in the game. If it was any other goalie, this game might be even more favourable for the Flames. Hats off to Schneider.
Despite his wonderful goaltending, the Devils were still down late in the game, so Schneider was pulled. With the extra skater, the Devils really took it to the Flames. An errant clearing attempt by Mikael Backlund led to a puck-over-glass penalty for him, and the final 47 seconds would be played 6-on-4.
The threat disappeared immediately. Right off the draw, TJ Brodie flicked it straight down the ice for the empty net goal from the Flames’ faceoff circles. This tally made him the tenth Flames player with ten goals, and the third defenceman to reach that mark this year. 3-1 Calgary.
The game was won, but the joy was short lived. Mark Giordano caught a stick and landed very awkwardly at the beginning of that play. He was down on his knees for a bit, but was able to skate it off and walked straight to the dressing room. Initial news says that he’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow, but that he is walking around and moving normally. Deep breaths everyone.
The Flames were the victors of this game, winning 3-1. The shots were eight apiece in the third, with the Devils having the slight edge in corsi, leading 14-13. The final totals were 27-26 in shots favouring Jersey, and 47-44 in corsi, favouring Calgary.
- The rookies looked good this game, probably because they were actually being played. Markus Granlund received ten minutes, including one spent on the PK. Emile Poirer was the most impressive, with two takeaways, ten minutes on the ice, and about a minute of PP time. Ferland got the short end of the stick, and only got eight minutes. Why Hartley couldn't extend the same treatment to Sven Baertschi, we'll never know.
- Overall, this is what happens when you have four functional lines. Everyone can contribute. Please keep doing this.
- Johnny Gaudreau was absolutely amazing tonight, being the Flames’ leader in corsi. He should’ve had a goal, but unfortunately couldn’t get past Corey Schneider.
- Karri Ramo was great once again. It was bold to play him again after a game the previous night, but it definitely paid off.
- Sam Bennett made his return tonight, notching three points in a 7-3 Kingston win. The future is bright.
- Deryk Engelland only had nine minutes of playing time, and I don’t remember him playing in the third period. Depending on what happens with Giordano, the Flames are going to have to do something to shore up the defensive core. Adirondack is only a few miles away from New York.
It’s a light night in the NHL, with only three games on the docket. The only other Western team playing is Anaheim, who are currently losing 2-0 to Ottawa midway through the second. A loss sees the Flames sneak in a bit closer to them in the divisional standings. They probably aren’t going to catch them, but wishful thinking.
Mark Giordano #Flames heart and soul . Had addition observation after game. Appears to walking and moving normally.— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) February 26, 2015
The Flames play the Islanders on Friday at 5:00. Please hope that Mark Giordano is alright. That’s pretty much the entire season right there.