Tonight the Flames kick off a very short - but very important - road trip, with their dads in tow. Before the game, the Flames sat 4th in the division, two points behind the San Jose Sharks (with a game in hand), and three points above the Los Angeles Kings.
Last season, the Flames split the two-game dads trip - falling to the Anaheim Ducks and rallying to a victory over the LA Kings - how will this trip stand up?
The last time the Flames and Sharks met, the Calgary Third Periods failed at scoring on an empty net, but won 3-1 anyway. And the mighty John Scott scored his second of the season to one-up our buddy, Brandon Bollig.
The first shot on goal went to Jiri Hudler. The first penalty went to Mark Giordano for taking down Joe Thornton. The Sharks powerplay can be scary - it's 8th in the league at 20.9% - though hasn't been effective against the Flames in the past (1 for 11 this season). A Flames penalty kill without Giordano isn't the most settling thing to watch, but boy did his other half do a good job. Awesome pressure by the Flames on the PK, they kept the Sharks down to exactly ZERO shots on goal.
Curtis Glencross' return looked great - as did his chemistry with Mason Raymond. They had a nice little passing play to enter the Sharks' zone, which led to a shot from the point by Deryk Engelland. Though it wasn't the strongest of shots, good on him for getting it through.
David Wolf (in his second NHL game, thanks to Paul Byron getting sick at the last minute) was on the receiving end of a long stretch pass that you could see forming from a mile away. Unfortunately, he couldn't get the puck settled in time to get a shot off, but it did set the Flames up for a one timer by Raphael Diaz. We like those. He even got a second one to the net, which Wolf got the rebound on for a couple of shots. That, plus his huge hit on Chris Tierney, made Wolf look very good this period.
Johnny Gaudreau is so good. Has that been said enough? He carried the puck from our zone, all the way to the Sharks net with speed and fancy stick handling, and drew a penalty in the process. C'mon Brent Burns! Don't pick on the little guy like that.
Delayed penalties bring back bad memories (remember Vancouver?). The Flames had an empty net and extra attacker for quite a while, and definitely did some damage.. until Gaudreau's pass from behind the net struck fear in our hearts as it missed the other players and sailed towards the empty net.
A few shots on goal by the defencemen, including Diaz on the first PP unit again (yay!). But nothing too exciting - they had to let our hearts settle from the empty net flashbacks.
Late in the period we had Raymond sneak his way into the high slot, using Matt Stajan as a screen to peel off the defender, and beat Antti Niemi on the glove side. Raymond's 9th of the season with assists to Lance Bouma and Kris Russell.
The shots were 8-7 for the Flames after one.
A couple of Sharks' 2-on-1's to open the period isn't ideal, but Russell, Dennis Wideman, and Jonas Hiller were able to deal.
Mikael Backlund had a neat looking shot, getting the puck from between the defender and their stick. Looked like they were tangled but that's just Backlund doing Backlund things.
Somehow, Tomas Hertl ended up in the net behind Hiller - that's not how you score goals!
Anyway, the Sharks ended up in the Flames zone for an extended period of time, which resulted in a fun sequence where the puck ended up under Russell and Hiller just laid on top of him for good measure.
A faceoff win (yay!) in the Sharks zone, led to a shot by Giodano through traffic. Bouma's size and positioning had him in the perfect spot for that rebound and scored on a little nifty backhand around Niemi. And that's his 9th of the season, with assists to Gio and David Jones.
TJ Brodie made a little mistake and gave the puck away to Joe Pavelski behind the net. Pavelski tried a neat little wraparound but ended up putting it wide.
Then, Tommy Wingels came in with speed and had Wolf chasing him, leading to a tripping penalty, and the Sharks' second PP of the game. Again, the Flames played with decent pressure and ended up with a Bouma-Gio shorthanded attempt. Bouma had another shorthanded attempt with a nice little zone entry, and then he hustled back and blocked a one time by Brent Burns - what can't Lance do? The Sharks ended up with 3 SOGs on the PP.
Johnny needs to shoot more often! He and Hudler had a 2-on-1 and Johnny looked for the pass to Huds instead of taking the shot. Go back to when Bob Hartley told you to shoot more - it worked!
Another delayed penalty for the Flames, but this time there were no flashbacks. Not much happened as the Flames ended up with 1 shot on goal (Diaz) through two minutes. On the plus side, the Flames PP was able to keep the puck in the offensive zone a bit more than the Sharks were able to on their PP.
In the last minute or so, the Sharks were really pushing hard for a goal. Bouma ended up blocking a shot near the point and made it look like an ice dancing move, but that was not enough to stop Burns from scoring in the LAST SECOND of the period (after an icing call). Burns with his 12th goal of the season, with assists to Logan Couture and Pavelski.
Shots on goal in the second: 13-10 for the Sharks, leading total shots 20-18.
Let's go third period! This is some great hockey.
I really like that Hartley has been able to keep Monahan, Gaudreau, and Hudler together since Backs returned. They had a couple of great chances with Mony able to chase the puck in and get it to Johnny.
A wild Bouma appeared! He snuck into the high slot off the bench with a shot that broke his stick and probably put a dent in the post.
There were so many chances and plays that it would be impossible to recap everything. How much fun was this game to watch?
Another Flames PP thanks to Burns! A couple of SH chances for the Sharks, and it didn't look like the powerplay would result in much, but it did. Papa Hudler got a beauty pass from his favourite son (Johnny if you're confused) and scored from the slot. That's Hudler's 16th of the season and 5th against the Sharks in 5 games. Assists were Johnny and Wideman. And cut to the dads high-fiving - it's so adorable.
Another long, solid period of hockey, which was ended by... a shot by Bouma off an awesome play by Backlund. These two were having a magical game, they just keep showing up. Like the 2-on-1 they had that ended with a glove save by Niemi on Backs. Backlund and Pavelski then got tied up a bit, which led to Backlund being sent off for another Sharks powerplay.
It's almost like we should be expecting it at this point, but Bouma and Stajan broke away for a 2-on-1 shorthanded chance. Burns had a hard shot from the point, which Hiller got with his blocker and the puck ended up in the sky for a few seconds. A little something happened and it resulted in a little scrum in front of Hiller as tensions were, understandably, high.
Hiller had a couple more amazing saves, showing off that he's more flexible than almost anyone I know. His positioning this game has been amazing.
Todd McLellan made the decision to pull Niemi with 2:30 remaining in the game, trailing by two. Could the Flames score on the empty net? Would we see Logan Couture acting like a goalie again? YES and no. Brodie with a great pass to Jones, who made a great little play and scored on the empty net from the blue line. Jones' 9th of the season (seems to be a pattern this game), and Brodie with the lone assist. And with that, Brodie has set a new career high for points! Again, the cut to the dads celebrating just kills me.
Some other things happened before the Flames just hung around behind their net for 15 or so seconds to drive the point home. That's a 4-1 win for the Calgary Flames! Bye bye Sharkies.
Third period shots were 14-9 for the San Jose, who out shot the Flames 34-27 through the game. But the 4-1 score is all that really matters. And just like that, the Flames are back at 2nd in the Pacific Division - and it feels good.
- SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CAN CYCLE FOUR LINES BOB? Especially, what happens with Stajan when you give him more effective line mates - you know who I'm talking about. After two periods, Stajan was one of the Flames time on ice leaders for the forwards.
- There was a comment along the lines of Wolf's size helping him be more effective than Byron - they completely ignored the fact that the Flames weren't playing a particular... *ahem* human disaster.
- Johnny Hockey got a haircut. Not sure if that interests anybody but it's definitely new.
- Norm and Graham DeLaet were at the game, watching with the dads.
- Out of the last 6 games against he San Jose Sharks, the Flames have won 5. That may have boosted their confidence - playing a team they have beat in the past.
- Gaudreau was paired up against Burns a few times, and - as good as he is (I cannot overstate that fact) - it's just funny to watch him battle against the likes of 6'5" Burns (and Byfuglien last week).
- That was the kind of game Hiller needed after that 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins/Sidney Crosby's. He was on top of the puck. Except for the time he was majorly screened at the end of the second when the Sharks scored. But other than that, can't fault him for much.
FLAME OF THE GAME:
Hard to argue with this one - and I think the title may have given it away - but this was Lance Bouma's game. He just seemed to appear in the right places, not to mention - TRUCULENCE! It was his 7th multi-point game of the season, with a goal and an assist. He also registered 3 shots on goal. Even though he may not always seem like a top six kind of player, he sure looked nice tonight. It also helps that he's on a line with Backlund, who does good things most of the time.
... Hartley put Bollig back in the line up for the next game against the LA Kings? ... NAH. Keep things as they are for now Bob, they work.