Flames put in solid effort to down Wild 3-2
The Calgary Flames came back from a two-game road trip having not scored a goal. That's 120 minutes without finding the back of the net for a team with a very potent offence. It was the first time the Flames had been blanked in back-to-back games since the 2003-04 season.
GAME IN A MINUTE
BY THE NUMBERS
OUR THREE STARS
After falling 2-0 in Pittsburgh, in a game in which they played well, and 5-0 in Columbus, in a game in which they didn't play well at all, Calgary found themselves the right tonic. They found the Minnesota Wild, a team they have dominated in recent years.
This season, the Flames had beaten the Wild four consecutive times and allowed the Wild just six goals in that span.In the last 10 meetings between the two teams, the Flames had lost just once.
On Saturday they made it five straight with a 3-2 win that had a little bit of everything.
A day prior to the match-up against the Wild, a team desperately fighting to get into the playoffs, the Flames faced the media and had a myriad of answers to some tough questions. Yes, they entered the game knowing that Vancouver was a mere one point behind them in the standings. No, the coaching wasn't the problem nor the reason that the Flames had won just three times in their previous 10 games. They needed to relax, have fun. Relieve some pressure, not add pressure.
What they needed was to score. And they did that. They even scored two more than they were given credit for as they had two goals disallowed in about a 20-second span in the second period. And hey, it wasn't even Kerry Fraser waving off the goals. It was Eric Furlatt. He signalled no goal off an Olli Jokinen shot because Curtis Glencross was in the crease although replays showed that to be debatable. The second was waved off after Glencross tipped a point shot and it was ruled his stick was above the crossbar. That one was reviewed by the war room in Toronto. The first goal that was disallowed is not reviewable as it is the referee's descretion.
"I was thinking, give me a break," smilled Glencross in the winning dressing room. "It's a refs decision and it happens. That was two tough ones there. We have to take the positive out of that. We kept going."
So how would the Flames react to the adversity? With fans still relentlessly booing Furlatt, they scored again to take a 3-2 lead. Taking advantage of a horrible Wild line change Jarome Iginla and Eric Nystrom worked a two-on-one with Nystrom finishing it off to give the Flames their second, and final, lead of the night.
"It was something that I haven't seen in my time here. The biggest thing was we kept going," said defenceman Dion Phaneuf. "The biggest thing was we kept going. It's not a good feeling to have two goals disallowed but give us credit, we kept pushing and pushing."
The Wild struck first when Andrew Brunette played follow-the-bouncing puck and banged home a rebound during a goalmouth scramble with 8:04 left in the first period. To that point the Flames had been outshooting the Wild 9-3 and were the team generating more quality scoring chances.
But the Flames ended their scoring slump at 13:23 of the first when Jamie Lundmark stopped a Wild clearing attempt and wristed a shot past Niklas Backstrom, tying the game at 1-1. The goal ended the goal-less streak for the Flames at 173 minutes and 23 seconds, a figure the Flames will doubt never want to remember.
A little more than two minutes later Daymond Langkow, on a great feed from Todd Bertuzzi from behind the net, buried his 20th of the season to give the Flames a 2-1 lead. That was important. The Wild are a team that plays stingy defence. They are even more inclined to defensive detail when they have lead and can frustrate the best of teams with a smothering style and good goaltending.
Instead of getting too uptight and biting their nails, the Flames responded by doing what they wanted to do -- get pucks to the net and get pucks to hit the back of the net.
"When we get a chance in front of the net we have to bury it behind the goalie," noted Craig Conroy.
They outshot the Wild 20-5 in the first period. That's one shot less than the Flames biggest shot output of 21 in a period against Phoenix on February 14.
While this is but one game, it was the type of game the Flames needed to play. It was the type of game the Flames needed to win. They showed resiliency. They didn't quit when two goals were disallowed. Although they sagged at times in the second period, they were able to bounce back.
Is there still concern? Certainly. Consider that Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen are now both goal-less in their last six games. The remaining schedule is not all that friendly beginning with San Jose, currently in the President's Trophy race as the top team in the league, paying a visit Monday. The final six games are in sets of two and the Flames have not had a lot of success in the back-to-back scenarios this season.
They are 4-6-1 in the first game of back-to-backs and 2-8-1 in the second game. There's little doubt the biggest game of the final seven of the regular season is in Vancouver on April 7, the second game of a two-game road trip with the first being in Los Angeles the night before. It's a four-point game and could decide who wins the Northwest Division and gains the ever-valuable home ice advantage in the playoffs.
Those scenarios are all down the road.
Saturday, the Calgary Flames got back to business and took care of business. That's the most important thing to know right now.
"The important thing was we came out and got the two points," said Lundmark.