Before we get into this recap, I would like to take a quick moment and pass on condolences to Florida Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant on the passing of his mother. He headed back to PEI to be with his family and wasn't behind the Panthers bench tonight.
Leading into tonight, the Flames had 1 win in their last 5 home games after rattling off 11 straight on home ice beforehand. They desperately needed a 60 minute performance to right the ship. With the red hot Panthers, who had points in 13 straight games, coming to town we didn't know which Flames team would show up. After this game was said and done, you would've thought the Flames were the team with points in 13 straight games.
From the drop of the puck it was all Flames. It took only 56 seconds for the Flames to get on the scoresheet as Sam Bennett scored after a nifty pass by Jiri Hudler. You could tell that all the energy was with the home team because there was no time or space open for Florida. The Flames were winning every race and battle for the puck, finishing every possible check, and generally dominating the period. They added 3 more goals in the frame before heading into the intermission. The home team was up 4-0 on 15 shots, which evidentially chased Luongo out of the net.
Jonas Hiller got the start in favour of Karri Ramo, who hadn't had a break in what seemed like forever. Hiller didn't really have to do much tonight. He only had to make 15 saves to earn the shutout.
Mason Raymond made it 5-0 in the second period and noticeably the Flames took their foot of the gas and coasted in to the finish line. Usually when teams let off with a big lead there's a push back from the other team, but there was nothing from Florida tonight. Whether it be tired legs from a Western road trip or the let down of having the 12 game winning streak snap, the Panthers weren't the same team that scored 40 goals in the last 13 games. There was no emotion, no jump, no push back.
Sam Bennett added to his already stellar night late in the 3rd by scoring his 4th goal of the night, becoming the youngest of the Flames players to score 4 in a game. That's a pretty amazing way to end an up and down 4-game home stand.
Flame of the Game:
This is a no brainer, Sam Bennett is tonight's Flame of the Game. After ending his 18 game goalless drought against San Jose Monday he definitely got some confidence back and potted a first period hat trick and finished off an amazing night with his 4th in the third. Hopefully this is just the beginning of something special this year for the 19 year old rookie.
Calgary now hits the road for a 5 game road trip with stops in Edmonton, New Jersey, Columbus, Carolina and Dallas. Hopefully they can right the high of this game into a successful road trip.