The Five Takeaways: Flames vs. Avalanche
Five key elements from the divisional clash between Calgary & Colorado
After Friday's disappointing loss in Buffalo, head coach Brent Sutter felt his roster needed a shakeup. He decided to sit veterans Brendan Morrison and Cory Sarich, inserting Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Derek Smith in their places.
David Moss suffered a lower body injury after blocking a shot in the 2-1 defeat to the Sabres so Niklas Hagman took over on the wing for him, playing for the first time since Oct. 26.
Just 0:34 into the game, Paul Stastny gave his club the early lead after backhanding an errant puck past Miikka Kiprusoff. Shane O'Brien's rebound bounced right to the centerman and he wasted no time getting the shot off.
Mark Giordano answered back just under 5:00 later, using defenceman Ryan Wilson as a screen. Flying down the boards, the blueliner realized netminder Semyon Varlamov wouldn't have a clear view of the shot thanks to Wilson's frame weaving through the shooting lane. Figuring any shot on net is a good one, Giordano whipped it towards the net and Varlamov only saw the puck once it flew over his glove.
Tim Jackman also dropped the gloves within the opening 5:00, dropping Cody McLeod with a couple of hard punches.
Despite having only played in 10 NHL contests prior to the game, Horak looked poised in his new role. He was dependable in all three zones, didn't panic when pressured and handled himself well in the faceoff circle.
At the end of the night, the 20 year-old logged 15:37 in ice time and went 8 for 12 in the faceoff circle for a 67% success rate.
While playing with the man advantage at the Scotiabank Saddledome hasn't really much of an advantage for the Flames, their power play when playing in other team's barns has been particularly impressive. That trend continued on in Denver.
The Flames poured it on in the early stages of the middle frame, flustering the Avs. In frustration, Milan Hedjuk took a tripping call in the Flames zone and the Flames responded with a power play goal. Curtis Glencross deflected an Alex Tanguay shot just over Varlamov's left right pad, notching his fourth of the year.
The team now sit second in the League when it comes to the power play on the road. They have connected on six goals on 18 attempts - a 33.3% success rate.
After the Flames scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, the Avs pushed back as they tried to score the equalizer. They nearly succeeded but some quick thinking by a Flames blueliner kept them from finding the back of the net.
While in deep forechecking, Gabriel Landeskog was able to get a close-range shot off from the slot. Kiprusoff could not make the save as he was down to low to snap up the high attempt but Derek Smith, who was perched at the side of the net, denied the youngster. Throwing his body into the blue paint, the defenceman knocked the puck through the crease and out of harm's way.