Troy Brouwer and Micheal Ferland scored, Chad Johnson had another terrific game and the Calgary Flames defeated the the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0, despite being outshot 34-20.
Surprise everyone, the lines had changed once again. Kris Versteeg returned after missing 9 games due to a groin injury, which led Glen Gulutzan to put him on a line with Troy Brouwer and Sean Monahan. This meant Sam Bennett was dropped down to play on the wing of Matt Stajan with Alex Chiasson. Brett Kulak was put back in over Jyrki Jokipakka and thankfully, Chad Johnson was starting.
It was a very sleepy first period. Not interesting at all. The Blue Jackets had a couple dangerous scoring chances, but otherwise nothing of interest really transpired. Both teams had a powerplay each, both powerplays generated absolutely nothing. It was scoreless after one period, with the shots favouring Columbus 10 to 3.
Fun fact: the Flames had one shot at even-strength in the first period.
The second period started off looking pretty grim. Matthew Tkachuk took a 4 minute penalty for high-sticking, which gave the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 40% home powerplay a good chunk of time to work with. However, the Flames PK stood strong and Chad Johnson made a big save off Nick Foligno, surviving the 4 minutes. Against the flow of the play, the Flames got on the board first. Troy Brouwer picked off a Columbus breakout pass, got the puck to Kris Versteeg who made a beautiful deke around Seth Jones and then slid the puck to Brouwer who had an easy tap in to put the Flames up 1-0. Versteeg is a solid playmaker, useful to have him back while Johnny is out.
A couple minutes later, a disaster nearly occurred, as Versteeg and Brouwer collided hard with each other in the offensive zone after a terrible Sean Monahan pass. The result was a Cam Atkinson breakaway for Columbus, where Chad Johnson gave him absolutely nothing to preserve the 1-0 lead. Versteeg would stay down for a little while, left the game, but thankfully he returned quickly.
There were chances both ways and the Flames did have a better period than the first, but they had the lead strictly thanks to Johnson. He was in the zone, stopping all shots coming his way. 1-0 Flames after two, shots 25-10 for Columbus.
After the Blue Jackets took an offensive zone penalty, the Flames headed to their second powerplay of the game. While shorthanded, the Blue Jackets almost broke out of the zone for an odd-man rush, but Dennis Wideman made a huge hold at the blueline, chipped the puck to Micheal Ferland, who wired a wrist shot past Bobrovsky, 2-0 for the Flames.
The Flames played with a lot more jump this period and after getting the second goal they kept pushing rather than sitting back. They managed to survive the late Columbus attack with the goalie pulled, Chad Johnson preserved his shutout and the Flames emerged with a 2-0 victory. Shots in the third were 9-9, the Blue Jackets led 34-20 overall.
Flames 3 Stars
- Chad Johnson: Another great game for Chad Johnson. The Flames were thoroughly outplayed in the first couple of periods, but Johnson shut the door, making a number of big saves. He is such a calm presence in net and it really seems to translate over to the team as a whole. 34 save shutout, he is the guy right now.
- Kris Versteeg: For a guy who missed the last 9 game, Versteeg was looking good and made a big impact in this game. The play he made to set up Brouwer was a beauty and he was involved in the offensive throughout the game, looking good on the powerplay.
- Matt Stajan: Stajan was a very steady presence throughout the course of the game, playing very well in his own end and on the PK, but also generating some pressure in the offensive zone with his linemates. He was one of only 6 Flames to finish at 50% or higher in Corsi For, with a team leading 59.09% at even strength (numbers courtesy of hockeystats.ca).
- The Flames won the special teams match up for once, which helped them overcome their lacklustre 5-on-5 play in the first two periods. Columbus came into the game with a 40% powerplay at home, but the Flames thwarted all 4 of their attempts on the man-advantage. Meanwhile, Ferland’s goal meant they finished 1-for-3 in the powerplay. Special team success leads to wins. Remarkable.
- Chad Johnson is the number one goalie on this team right now. I would not put it past Brian Elliott to mount an effort at a later point, but right now Johnson is playing terrific and leading the team to victory on a regular basis. He is incredibly calm in net, he stands tall when called upon. He now owns a 6-3-1 record, compared to Brian Elliott’s record of 3-9-0.
- Another day, another game of Sean Monahan not really accomplishing much of anything, despite getting more offensive zone starts than any player on the team. Only Freddie Hamilton, Kris Versteeg and Troy Brouwer posted worse shot-attempt differentials, but at least Versteeg and Brouwer showed up on the scoresheet and Hamilton is a low paid 4th liner. Monahan really needs to get going because this season has been a very bad look for him and it is concerning he still has not turned it around.
- Dougie Hamilton played more minutes than Dennis Wideman tonight!
The Flames record now sits at 9-12-1. Not phenomenal, but they are not far back of the pack. After a day off tomorrow, they will face the Bruins, looking to move to 3-1 on the road trip.