The story heading in to tonight's game was the return of the three sleepy heads that were scratched for the last game. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Lance Bouma returned to the line up, and expectations were high they would come out fast to prove themselves again. The story quickly turned however as a sloppy game unfolded, and Flames' goaltender Kari Ramo was injured.
Sam Bennett was the first to find the net early in the first period. After picking off a poorly made cross-ice pass by the Sharks he sniped in a shot past Alex Stalock. Moments later, with the game starting get a bit chippy, The Flames went on the power play after Tomas Hertl took an odd penalty for closing his hand on the puck as he fell on the ice. It took only a few seconds for Mark Giordano to fire a shot that again passed Alex Stalock, and The Flames were up 2-0. Giordano's goal gave him 22 points in 22 games.
About 8 minutes in, The Flames' defence played ping-pong with the puck behind the crease, sending it back and forth three times. Whether it was confusion, or a set play gone bad, the Sharks had regrouped, were able to take away the puck, and fire off a shot. Luckily Ramo was ready and made a huge kick save. The Sharks kept up the pressure. A few minutes later Tommy Wingles flipped the puck over Ramos' glove into the net after Joonas Donskoi snagged it off a face-off in the Flames' zone.
The Flames' top line quickly responded with a beautiful rush on the Sharks net, which was followed up seconds later by another goal from Mikael Backlund. The Sharks' defence was in tatters, and The Flames were up 4-1.
The first period ended with the Flames killing off back to back interference penalties. Unfortunately David Jones went down and out of the game after blocking a hard slapshot that deflected off his knee.
Despite it leading to two goals, Alex Stalock continued to come way out of his net to play the puck. On one last rush by The Flames in the period he almost give up a fifth goal, again way out of the crease.
The rest of the game I will break up in two segments: the next 30 minutes of play; and the last 10 minutes plus overtime.
The next 30 minutes was rough for The Flames. Right at the start of the second period Logan Couture picked up a power play goal on a penalty carried over from the first period. Then, about half way through the second period, this happened:
A tripping by Frolik, and a slashing penalty by Backlund, both within less than one minute. But how did Bennett wind up in there too? It wasn't visible on the broadcast, but the Sportsnet crew said Bob Hartley ran his mouth off at the officials, and they hit back with a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. Bennett served it for him.
This meant about one minute of 5 on 3, ending when Marleau scored; then almost two minutes of 4 on 3, which The Flames killed off. The Sharks would still go on to score 2 more goals in the third period: Donskoi first, then DeMelo on a power play, this time from a penalty actually earned by Bennett. The Sharks were up 5-4.
Kris Russell was the hero who tied the game, scoring off a rebound from a wrap-around attempt by Bennett. The Sharks challenged citing goalie interference, but the officials ruled there was none. The game was now tied 5-5.
This brings us to the last 10 minutes of regulation, which was CRAZY!
With 3 minutes to go, Sam Bennett elbowed Paul Martin near centre ice who went down hard, but play continued. The Sharks got the puck back and Donskoi rushed the net. Mark Giordano tripped him, and he crashed hard into Kari Ramo, whose leg was smashed into the post from the impact. Ramo called for the trainer, and left the game, hobbling off the ice. With no warm-up, Jonas Hiller was called in to face 2 minutes of 5 on 3.
Amazingly, The Flames killed it off.
Then it was on to the 3 on 3 OT, where there were no goals, so it went to a shootout.
Joe Colborne and Jiri Hudler got the puck past Stalock, and that was good enough to get the win.
The Flames sneak away with 2 badly needed points from a really messy game. Obviously, the big question is how badly injured is Kari Ramo? Look for updates later today.
Next game: the Arizona Coyotes,