Five keys to the Flames-Wild tilt
Here's five key factors in the Flames 4-1 loss in St. Paul.
Takeaway One - Olli Olli Olli
After spending the majority of the season on the second line, Olli Jokinen was shifted up to the top line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. The move ended up paying off for the Flames top two lines.
Matt Stajan moved down to play with Rene Bourque and Niklas Hagman, giving the two snipers a set-up man. He was able to distribute the puck to his linemates at opportune times, creating chance after chance around the Minnesota net.
Jokinen's line shift paid off for the Flames on the scoresheet. He potted his fourth tally in six contests in the second period at 3:23 of the second period.
Iginla went to take a slap shot from the slot but his shot was blocked. He picked up his own rebound and dished it off to Jokinen, who was perched at the side of the net. The Finn tossed the puck into the net, giving him his sixth goal of the season.
Overall, in 20:37 of ice time, Jokinen was a +1 and had 5 shots on net.
Jokinen was named the second star of the game.
Takeaway Two - Reinvigorated Glencross
After sitting for two straight games as a healthy scratch, Curtis Glencross was inserted back into the lineup and his energy level was off the charts.
The winger battled hard the entire night, had immediate chemistry with linemates David Moss and Brendan Morrison and had 3 shots on net in 15:39 of ice time.
With Tom Kostopoulos in the penalty box for roughing, the Flames penalty kill proved to be incredibly dangerous for the Wild. Glencross blocked a pass from Marek Zidlicky at the blueline and went streaking into the offensive zone on a breakaway. He sent a hard wrist shot at the net and Backstrom had to be sharp to stop it from slipping past his glove.
Takeaway Three - Veteran Presence
Ales Kotalik was benched for the entire third period of Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Wild on Saturday and given his play was less than satisfactory, the coaching staff thought it was prudent for him to watch the game from the press box on Monday.
Veteran forward Craig Conroy was placed in the lineup thanks to the decision, making his first appearance in the roster since Nov. 26. Those 11 missed games were incredibly disappointing for Conroy and he channeled that frustration into a productive outing.
On the fourth line with Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopolous used his 7:13 of ice time to generate energy for his club. While most of his time has was spent during five-on-five situations, head coach Brent Sutter allowed Conroy to earn some power play time to reward him for his efforts.
Takeaway Four - Backstopped by Backstrom
The Flames played a fairly sound game and absolutely dominated the Wild in the second period, only allowing three shots on net in the middle stanza. Overall, the Flames outshot the Wild 35-23 and if it wasn't for Backstrom's heroics, Calgary may have left the State of Hockey with two points.
Right from the first minute of the game, Backstrom robbed the Flames chance after chance. While the game was scoreless in the first period, Calgary's top line looked like they would be able to open the scoring when Jokinen swatted an errant puck towards the net with Backstrom sprawled on the other side of the ice. However, as the puck trickled towards the goal line, Backstrom flew other to get his stick on the shot and push it into the corner.
His performance nabbed him the first star in the game.
Takeaway Five - Third Period Breakdown
After Jokinen scored the equalizer early in the second period, the Flames looked to be in good shape as they headed into the final frame. However, a few defensive breakdowns led to three unanswered goals by the Wild.
Minnesota managed to notch two power play goals and an empty netter in the period and head coach Brent Sutter said the lack of defensive presence and penalties handed the win to the Wild.
First, Martin Havlat skated towards the net from the corner and deftly deposited the puck into the back of net after he deked around Miikka Kiprusoff while the Wild had the man advantage.
After that, with Robyn Regehr in the box for high-sticking, Joel Madden added Minnesota's second power play marker when he threw the puck towards the net and it slipped underneath of Kiprusoff. Madden was left all alone on the play, giving him the time and space to make the pass.
Cal Clutterbuck added an empty-netter at 19:14.