Niklas Backstom started in net and the Flames decided to go with only 5 defensemen tonight, but they didn't need to as Tyler Wotherspoon made it to Montreal in time for the game. Deryk Engelland went home to be with his wife during the birth of their second child. Congrats Engelland family! Up front, Sam Bennett returned to the lineup, rendering Freddie Hamilton the healthy scratch. The starting lineup included Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Josh Jooris.
Niklas Backstrom looked a little shaky in net to start, but that's to be expected after not playing for over a year. It didn't take him long to get more comfortable and make good saves to keep the Flames alive. His defensive team on the blue line helped out a lot and every player on the ice stepped up their game. The Flames dominated the first 20 minutes. Dougie Hamilton made great saves to take away Habs chances. Garnet Hathaway and Joe Colborne were throwing big hits and Brandon Bollig had a couple of early chances on the Canadiens net. Micheal Frolik took a nasty hit in neutral ice, but it didn't slow him down at all. Lance Bouma was digging in the corners to clear the zone and take away Habs chances after the opposition passed in front of the Flames net instead of shooting. The period ended with no score.
The Flames started the period on a power play after Micheal Ferland got away with a high-sticking penalty and avoided a 4 on 4. Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano made quite a push, but couldn't capitalize. The only mistake of the period happened when Gio made a back pass that was supposed to go behind the net, but instead went straight towards Backstrom. Luckily, Backstrom was on his game and caught the pass. Gio made his way over to the net minder after the whistle and gave Backstrom a tap in appreciation. Bouma blocked another shot, this time with his foot, and he was in obvious pain, but he stayed on the ice until the whistle and didn't leave the game. According to Derek Wills on Twitter, the Flames were throwing some serious hits in the first 2 periods.
Apparently, Micheal Ferland has 7 hits, Lance Bouma, Joe Colborne and Garnet Hathaway all have 5, #Flames have 33 after 2 periods. Huh?— Derek Wills (@Fan960Wills) 21 March 2016
At the end of the middle frame, the goals showed up. Sam Bennett took the puck down the ice, passed across to Brodie on the far side, who threw it in front to Joe and Joe tapped it in. It was 1-0 Flames. But they weren't done yet as Dougie took a shot and Monahan tapped it in. The score was 2-0 Flames to end the 2nd period.
Backstrom was tested early by Montreal, but the Flames defense stood tall. The Habs dominated the early part of the period, but the Flames held them off. Garnet Hathaway took a roughing penalty, but that didn't stop the Calgary team from scoring again to widen the gap 3-0. During another Flames power play, Sean Monahan netted another goal for the visiting team and they were up 4-0. But Montreal would eventually break the shutout that Backstrom worked so hard to achieve in his first game back. After a couple of dirty plays by Emelin on Hathaway and Byron on Bennett, the Flames claimed victory in a 4-1 win.
Flame Of The Game
Niklas Backstrom. He may have looked a little shaky in the very beginning of the game, but it didn't take long for him to get back in the game after not being in net since January 13th, 2015. Backstrom's experience was a shining example at important moments throughout the game as he remained focused, solid, and showed off his quick reflexes. He saved 21 of 22 shots on net and claims tonights Flame Of The Game.
Congrats on a great start with the Flames Backstrom!