The Five Takeaways: Flames vs. Habs
Five key elements from the Flames-Habs game
Miikka Kiprusoff set a new franchise record for most wins by a goaltender on Thursday night when he notched his 263rd victory. He was previously tied with Mike Vernon after picking a win against the Edmonton Oilers on Apr. 6.
The netminder was excellent in Montreal, making several clutch saves during key points of the game. At one point, it looked like Brian Gionta had a sure-fire goal after a scramble in front of the net but Kiprusoff leapt off ice and snared the puck before it had the chance to fly over his shoulder.
Overall, he stopped 35 of 36 shots in the 4-1 win over the Canadiens.
The Habs were able to open the scoring less than two minutes into the contest after a bad break for the Flames in the offensive zone. Cory Sarich came in from the point to send a slap shot on net but when he connected with the puck, his stick exploded. Montreal quickly pounced on the errant puck and went in on a two-on-one.
Derek Smith, who replaced Anton Babchuk for the second straight game, was stuck trying to defend against Andrei Kostitsyn and Max Pacioretty and while he was able to take away the latter's shooting lane, he couldn't make it over in time to stop Kostitsyn on the rebound off the boards.
Coming into Thursday's contest, the Flames were one-for-six on the power play. The team had spent a great deal of time working on their power play tactics before the start of the regular season and the Flames admitted it was more than a little frustrating only find success once in their opening games.
However, their power play came together in Montreal and they were able to score twice with the man advantage in the opening frame. Their puck management was a key factor in their success. They moved the puck well, stretching out the Habs penalty killers and opening up plenty of scoring opportunities.
"I think with the skill level we have, we feel that if we move and let the puck do the work, we're going to give ourselves chances to score," Alex Tanguay said last week. "With the guys that we have on the power play, we feel that we have the skill level to make passes, be able to take the right shots at the right time."
After the Flames morning skate, Tanguay made it quite clear that while he once played for the Canadiens, he didn't feel it was a particularly special place to come back to.
"I was here for a year and didn't get offered a contract afterwards," he said. "I'm from Quebec City, I've always grown up being a Nordiques fan so it's not hard for me to cheer against this team."
Tanguay was instrumental in the Flames success in Montreal, assisting on two goals in his 18:29 of ice time.
Another Habs killer, Bourque, found the back of the net twice in Montreal. In nine games played against Montreal, Bourque has five goals and nine points. In his last game against the Canadiens, the Heritage Classic, he beat Carey Price twice in the Flames 4-0 victory.
Puck drop was delayed by approximately 20 minutes as the Canadiens held their home opener ceremony. Having to wait for such occassions to conclude can sometimes cause a team to lose their pre-game momentum but the Flames were weather the storm early on, killing off all of the Habs energy with by being tenacious on the puck, a tight backcheck and determination not to let themselves fall apart like they did in their first two tilts.