Penalty kill comes up big in win
Flames thump Montreal 6-2
It was the Flames penalty kill - not power play - that produced the most offense in the team's 6-2 victory over the slumping Montreal Canadiens.
Matthew Lombardi and Dustin Boyd each scored shorthanded goals in the second period. The Flames power play produced one goal in the third when David Moss tipped a shot from the blueline for Calgary's sixth goal of the night.
"When you get a couple of them in a row like that, that really changed the momentum for us and you saw us take over after that," said Cory Sarich of the two shorties.
The Flames scored five straight after the Canadiens got themselves up by a score of 2-1. Sarich said that he knew the outburst of goals was going to come and was glad it was sooner than later.
"We've done it before but we've been suppressed here for the last few games so you know we were due to break out sooner or later."
Lombardi described the mood of the locker room after the game as one of positivity.
"It lightens it up a bit. We're really happy with the way we played. It's the kind of game we're looking for, a lot of energy and a full 60 minutes," he smiled. "It was a big win for us before we go out on the road and we've got to keep going."
Coming into the game, the Flames were in the midst of a four-game losing streak, their worst in 15 months. The Canadiens have now dropped three straight and have lost four of their last five.
The Flames held two back-to-the-basics practices that focussed on getting the puck deep and having a gritty, blue collar forecheck. The team felt they were trying to make too many pretty plays in the past week and needed to revert back to the rough, grinding team they were in prior months.
Jaroslav Halak was giving starting duties by the Canadiens. He was supposed to start in Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Leafs but sat out with the flu. Carey Price, the Habs regular starter, has struggled in net as of late. He's lost six of his last eight games and hasn't looked the same since returning from a lower body injury on Jan. 20.
Although there were great numbers of Canadiens fans in the building, the overwhelming boos as they skated onto the ice was evidence that they were greatly outnumbered by hometown fans.
Dion Phaneuf gave the game it's first big hit when he saw big Georges Laraque skating to the end boards to grab a loose puck. The Flames defenseman skated hard at him and rammed him into the boards with force. The two have had an on-going rivalry since Phaneuf entered the league in 2005 when Laraque was playing for the Edmonton Oilers.
The Canadiens got on the board first with Matt D'Agostini's 10th of the season at 10:17 of the first period. His slap shot through beat Miikka Kiprusoff on the low left side. Christopher Higgins assisted.
The C of Red eruprted shortly after when Mike Cammalleri tapped in his 28th of the season. Adam Pardy sent at Halak that bounced through the crowd in front. It rolled towards Cammalleri who just batted at it and it trickled into the net slowly. Lombardi also assisted.
After Pardy and Maxim Lapierre took roughing penalties at 17:45, the Flames went in hard on the forecheck. With three Flames surrounding the net, the Habs managed to push the puck out of their zone which led to an odd-man rush. Alex Kovalev went in on the left with the puck, passing to Tomas Plekanec at the last second. Plekanec snapped the puck past a scrambling Kiprusoff at 18:41.
The first period ended with a scrum in the offensive zone. Rene Bourque shot the puck with a second left and after the horn had gone, former Flame Roman Hamrlik flattened him into the boards. Hamrlik was called for boarding but Bourque was furious and went after him. Soon both teams were fully involved in the skirmish. Bourque and Lapierre were penalized for roughing.
Montreal took a tripping penalty at 5:05 in the second period. Josh Gorges hauled down David Moss in front of the Habs net. Shortly after the power play had begun, Montreal put themselves in an even deeper hole when Tom Kostopoulos crosschecked Iginla, giving the Flames a 1:23 of 5-on-3 time. Calgary couldn't get it past Halak however and the Habs escaped unscathed.
Bourque gave the Canadiens their first man advantage of the game when he was called for goaltender interference at 9:55. The power play proved to be a hinderance for the Habs though as the speedster Lombardi managed to pick up a pass at centre and rush in. Lombardi backhanded the puck over Halak's glove shortside for the tying marker. The shortie came at 11:36. It was the Montreal native's 6th tally of the year.
"Glenny was putting some good pressure on their guys," said Lombardi. "I just picked up a loose puck and got a bit of speed and got it behind the goalie. It definitely felt good to get the momenttum and we go back and score one right away so it was a good turnaround for us."
The Flames first lead of the game came just seconds after the shorthanded goal. Bourque held the puck in on the forecheck before passing back to Craig Conroy. The veteran forward passed it back to an approaching Phaneuf who snapped it past Halak at 12:08.
With just over two minutes left, Robyn Regher was sent to the sin bin for kneeing. The ensuing power play featured an astounding save by a flailing Kiprusoff. Andrei Kostitsyn thought he had a sure goal when the puck came to him with the Flames netminder on the other side of the net. Somehow Kiprusoff managed to get himself in position and get an arm up to keep the Flames ahead.
"It was pretty impressive," said Cammalleri. "He's a special goaltender."
The power play got worse for the Habs shortly after the highlight reel save. Boyd got sent into the Montreal zone by Eric Nystrom and gave the Flames their second shorthanded marker of the night. He slid the puck under the pad of Halak at 18:43.
At the end of the second period, the Flames had outshot the Habs 33-13.
Early in the third, Francis Bouillon pulled Curtis Glencross down in front of the Habs net. The forward didn't like move and the two dropped the gloves. It was a fairly even fight but Glencross had the edge due to a few well-placed rights. Bouillon's hold gave the Flames a power play at 2:37.
Bourque gave Calgary a three goal lead at 6:57 when he whacked Cammalleri's rebound in the net. Lombardi also assisted on Bourque's 18th of the season.
Bouillon put his club on the penalty kill once again when he was called for interference. The Flames power play went to work and got their first goal with the man advantage. Moss tipped Sarich's shot at 11:51. At this point, the "Ole" chants had all but died.
"The crowd was going both ways off the start," said Sarich. "Here at the ending the right crowd was cheering."
The Flames fell into a bit of penalty trouble at the end of the game with Sarich and Glencross taking holding calls at 13:06 and 14:37 but they were able to withstand the pressure and hold on to the 6-2 win.
While always a loud building to play in, the Dome was especially crazy. The players appreciated the energy the fans brought to the table and said it gave them an edge.
"It was a real exciting game, lots of energy and we fed off it," said Lombardi.
THE NUMBERS GAME
3 - Points for Matthew Lombardi
30 - Wins over Montreal in Flames franchise history
1 – Wins for Mike Keenan needed to surpass Pat Quinn for 4th in all-time wins
28 - Goals for Mike Cammalleri
THE BIG SAVE
THE BIG HIT
UP NEXT:The Flames embark on a three-game road swing on Wednesday. First up on the trip is the Anaheim Ducks at 8:00 p.m. on Sportsnet West & The FAN 960