Calgary Flames 2 - NJ Devils 1
It wasn’t pretty, but a road weary Flames team walked out of NJ and the Prudential Center with a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils Wednesday night. Calgary won their 7th straight contest and swept a three game road trip that ends a very busy month on the road. Since February 1 the Flames have played 9 of their 13 games on the road and now have a point in 9 out of 10 games, extending their seven point lead in the Western Conference.
The Flames look very strong early on in this contest, particularly the struggling Johnny Gaudreau. Whether it was being in his home state or his little slump starting to disappear the Flames forward was strong (minus his turnover that lead to a SHG) with the puck on his stick and the Flames were clearly trying to run everything through him. With all that said, no one did anything during the first 20 minutes of this contest. Calgary out shot the Devils 15-5 in the period and looked in control, but nothing came of all the shots fired at MacKenzie Blackwood.
The Flames would start the second period with an abbreviated 5 on 3 PP and they would capitalize, even if it wasn’t pretty. Johnny Gaudreau would find Elias Lindholm with a slap pass and Lindholm would attempt a shot/pass, but the puck would redirect off of Sami Vatanen’s skate and find the back of the net. Pretty? No. A goal? Yes and the Flames would take a 1-0 lead. Twelve minutes later the Flames would score a more conventional goal to take a 2-0 lead. Johnny Gaudreau would come down the right side and slow things down until Mark Giordano was able to get up into the play. Gaudreau would feed Gio and the captain would absolutely undress Blackwood for his 60th point of the season and the Flames were in the drivers seat. NJ would make the game interesting with a SHG off the stick of Kevin Rooney thanks to a Johnny Gaudreau turnover, but that was all the Devils could muster on the evening.
David Rittich made sure the Flames lead would hold with a few spectacular third period saves, despite not having much to do most of the night. Through the first two periods Rittich saw only 10 shots and he only surrendered the one goal in the second period. He would finish the night stopping 19 of the 20 shots he saw and looked very solid in net for the second time in three games.
2nd: 1:07- (PPG) Lindholm (26) (Tkachuk/Gaudreau) 13:52- Giordano (14) (Gaudreau/Monahan)
2nd: 16:47- (SHG) Rooney (3) (Unassisted)
The Flames marathon month of February is finally over as they will head home to the Saddledome to play four of their next six on home ice. The win in NJ was their 7th straight and improved their road record to 21-11-2, second only to Tampa’s 23-6-2 road record.
The Flames top line was much more in sync tonight and it showed on the score sheet. Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan combined for four points on the night and they were much more engaged then they have been recently. Newcomer Oscar Fantenberg also saw his first action as a Flame and looked like a good fit. He saw 14+ minutes of ice time, had a SOG and led the Flames with five hits.
Early in the third period NJ’s Mirco Mueller was injured after hitting the boards awkwardly and he had to be taken from the ice via stretcher. Mueller was able to give the crowd a “thumbs up” on his way off the ice, so hopefully Mueller will be fine and the transport was nothing more than a precaution.
Flame Of The Game
Johnny Gaudreau (F). Gaudreau’s goal scoring has been quiet as of late, but he’s still finding ways to make an impact. Gaudreau had two assists tonight, giving him four points in his last five games. Sure, he had a costly turnover, but he was trying to do everything early on in this game to get Calgary two points. The Johnny Gaudreau of Wednesday night needs to be the player the Flames put on the ice if this run of success is going to continue.
3/2: Calgary Flames vs Minnesota Wild, 8 PM MT