It's game six of the seven game eastern road trip, and it has been a long one for Karri Ramo. Tonight he gets a well-earned break as Jonas Hiller gets a chance to shine.
The Detroit Red Wings will not be an easy team to beat. They haven't missed the playoffs in 24 years, they've got captain Henrik Zetterberg back, and we all know Pavel Datsyuk, who's got seven goals and 13 points in the last nine games.
Detroit would open the scoring, needing just over three minutes to get their game going. Meanwhile, the Flames seemingly hadn't quite gotten their minds into it yet, as Zetterberg made a stretch pass that found Justin Abdelkader sitting behind Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman.
Calgary would open the penalties, with Mason Raymond called on tripping Brendan Smith. Not great against the number one powerplay in the league.
And they're there for the reason. Zetterberg and Abdelkader would combine again to beat Hiller. This time with a quick shot across the crease that found Abdelkader's stick ready to tap it in.
I've totally made that goal a few times in ball hockey.
The Calgary powerplay may not be ranked number one, but the interference call on Smith was all they needed to cut the lead. Wideman did well, keeping the puck in the offensive zone, but it was golden child, Sean Monahan, who would show just how smart he can be. Good patience to not shoot right away, and he found himself with an open net.
Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson did their best goalie impressions on that one.
It was the Wings' period, leading 14-7 in shots, 25-10 in Corsi, and 2-1 in the game.
Not a great start for the Flames while they're trailing by one. The Wings kept the pressure on and had a few good chances, but Hiller held them off.
The Wings' trick to keeping the puck in the offensive zone? Six players. That's too many men, man.
Calgary didn't get much going, there were a few good shots by Raphael Diaz but only one of them was a shot on goal. And that's all she wrote for the powerplay.
A good play by Russell to break up an offensive chance for the Wings led to a nice one timer chance for Deryk Engelland that was up high on Jimmy Howard. Everyone's contributing.
Even (former?) human disaster, Brandon Bollig. Knowing the boards in the Joe Louis Arena are lively, Bollig dumped it in hard. New dad (yay!) Matt Stajan was able to get the rebound and just fired a rocket toward Howard that found the back of the net.
With that, the ice seemed to tilt toward the Detroit end. The Flames had a little pep in their step.
Adding to the pep? Jiri Hudler scoring on his former team.
It was fun watching Erik Cole fall over and over again in the Flames zone. The crowd got pretty loud, probably wanting a tripping call somewhere, but I think he may just be new to this skating thing. He and Engelland got into it a bit, which caught Cole offside when the play returned to the Flames' zone. Good stuff.
The Flames with the lead, 3-2, but the Wings' still out-shot and out-Corsied the Flames, 15-8 and 24-12, respectively.
Getting the puck out of their own zone, Hudler lobbed the puck into the offensive zone for a line change. A wild MayRay appeared! He hustled in off the bench and kept the puck in the zone, which eventually got him a deserved goal.
Drew Shore and Josh Jooris just not letting the Wings clear the puck. What pests.
A bit later, behind the Detroit net again, Danny DeKeyser played magician and tried to make the puck disappear. Under his hand. Smothering.
This was a better powerplay for the Flames as they pressured and worked to get the puck toward the net a bit more. Only one shot on goal though.
Cole tried to carry the puck in all by his lonesome, but Engelland and TJ Brodie played solid defence in front of Hiller. Instead, Tomas Tatar got creative and hoped he resembled a puck enough while he went into the net.
A later powerplay for the Wings is probably not what the Flames needed, but Russell gave it to them anyway, hooking Abdelkader.
Fortunately, the best thing that happened was a 2-on-1 shorthanded chance with Mikael Backlund carrying it up and Jooris with him. Backlund's shot got through Howard but SAT right on the goal line. Howard almost kicked it in but got his glove on it instead.
Howard was pulled for the extra attacker near the end of the powerplay, which almost gave Russell a goal as he came out of the box behind the Detroit defence but the puck was behind the net before he got there. There were a few more tries at the empty net goal but to no avail.
UNTIL. Backlund carried the puck in, and gave the puck to Hudler for the goal instead of taking it himself. Backlund probably deserved a goal tonight but he's not greedy.
And with that, the Flames managed five unanswered goals after starting down two.
That was a better period for the Flames, out-shooting the Wings 9-6, with Corsi even at 15 a-piece. But most importantly, they won 5-2, despite being out-shot and out-Corsied, 35-24 and 64-27 (woof).
- For five years, no Red Wings forward has played more than 25 minutes in a regular season game. Last night, Monahan played 27:39. Impressive.
- Speaking of Monahan, he went from zero goals in the first period to three straight games with one in each. And he's got four goals in the past five games.
- For whatever reason, each defence regular has had their average ice time go up since Mark Giordano's season ended, EXCEPT Diaz, whose TOI has decreased. What?
- Hudler has joined Brett Hull as the only two players to score >20 goals with both Detroit and Calgary
- Monahan and Hudler are just great. I'm sure that's a very controversial statement.
- Two periods in, David Schlemko had already had more ice time than in yesterday's game (8:04 vs 7:00). So far, so good, new kid.
On the hot topic of shot blocking:
- If you played along yesterday, that was 15 shots of your choice of alcohol for the 15 shots Russell blocked. Or 37 shots for the total blocked shots by the Flames. Your choice.
- In an interview, Russell said that his bruises are permanent now, and his legs have lost all feeling at this point in the season. That's awesome.
- Both Russell and Wideman got hurt from shot blocks tonight and had to get off the ice. The perils of shot blocking.
Flame of the Game:
He's the youngest player on the team at 20, in a season that everyone was expecting to be his 'sophomore slump,' and yet he's got six points in the last five games, with two tonight. Sean Monahan was forced to step up his game earlier this season, and he's still improving. He's growing into a two-way player, starting to score in the first period, and improving on his faceoffs - going nine for 15 (60%) on the night.
Honorable mentions to Jonas Hiller (0.943 SV%), Jiri Hudler (two goals on three shots), and Dennis Wideman (two great assists - and six blocked shots, if you care). Also, Matt Stajan, who's having a great week, with the heartwarming birth of his son, and a goal tonight. He also went 50% in Corsi.