It appears that Reto Berra has now laid claim to Miikka Kiprusoff’s vacant throne. And although whether he deserves it or not has yet to be determined, it is clear that Bob Hartley and the rest of the Calgary Flames are now sharing the confidence that Jay Feaster has in the 26-year old Swiss goaltender.
Berra led the team into the eighth week of the season with hopes of redemption after an abysmal six-game losing streak, and started in net for all three games of the week.
The week began with a Western Canadian matchup as the Flames faced the Winnipeg Jets, who had won four of their last five games.
It appeared that the Jets wanted the victory more than the slumping Flames in the opening period, as they nearly doubled up on shots against the visiting team, but the first period remained scoreless.
Mike Cammalleri drew first blood with Grant Clitsome in the box for tripping, but the Jets’ Michael Frolik answered back with a goal of his own just minutes later. As the second came to a close, TJ Brodie restored the Flames’ lead, deflecting a shot from Kris Russell to beat Al Montoya.
And then all the fun began to happen.
The Flames and Jets started trading goals, just minutes apart from each other. First it was former Flame Olli Jokinen. Then it was a short-handed goal from Lance Bouma. On another Jets powerplay Dustin Byfuglien tied it at three. And just when it looked like the Flames would take the game courtesy of a goal by Jiri Hudler, Winnipeg’s Brian Little tied the game once again with only six seconds to go.
The extra frame solved nothing, with only five shots recorded on goal for the Flames and three for the Jets.
It took eight excruciating rounds in the shootout to determine a winner. And after the last seven shooters were denied by the opposing goalies, it was rookie Sean Monahan who finally ended the anticipation. His first career shootout goal gave the Flames the 5-4 win.
After being demolished 7-0 by the Edmonton Oilers just the night before, the Columbus Blue Jackets tried to avoid a similar fate against the Flames. The scoring was significantly less prolific this time around but Columbus got what they wanted in the end.
Nick Foligno got the first goal of the game halfway through the first period, and the Blue Jackets were able to maintain the lead for the next 31 minutes. But that’s not to say there was a lack of excitement following Foligno’s goal. On a shot by Jack Johnson just minutes after Columbus went up by one, Reto Berra made an incredible around-the-world bicycle-kick save to avoid going deeper into a deficit.
Early in the third Joe Colborne stuffed a backhander into Columbus’ net to tie the game. With at least one point on the horizon, Berra and the Flames managed to keep the puck out for the remainder of regulation.
However, the promise of two points was extinguished quickly, as Nikita Nikitin’s wrist shot found its way to the back of the Flames’ net just minutes into OT. Columbus topped Calgary 2-1.
The Florida Panthers may be very different from the Calgary Flames, but the two teams share one thing in common: the lowly spot of second last in their respective conferences.
Their dismal rankings in the standings did not set the tone for the game to follow, however, as the matchup ended up being just as action-packed as the last two games the Flames played.
The Panthers got on the scoreboard first on a mighty slapshot from defenseman Tom Gilbert, late in the first.
Midway through the second, Joe Colborne’s third of the season tied things up at one. Just minutes later, with the Flames on the powerplay, Sven Baertschi snapped one past Tim Thomas, nabbing his first goal in his last 15 games.
Blair Jones, freshly called up from the Abbotsford Heat, extended the Flames’ lead.
But an ugly goal from Jimmy Hayes (and I mean ugly) brought the Panthers to within one.
Berra, caught far out of his crease, ended up handing the puck to Hays, who easily skated up to the net and potted the goal.
With six minutes left in the game, Marcel Goc knotted it up at three.
Again, overtime solved nothing, and a lengthy shootout ensued. In the sixth round, Sean Monahan beat Thomas for his second successful goal in his shootout career, and when Hayes failed to put one past Berra, Monahan was credited with the game-winning goal.
Needless to say, allowing Monahan to remain in the NHL in his very first season is one of the best decisions Flames management has made thus far.
Picking up four points out of a potential six is a much-needed break for the weary Flames, who now hope to build off of the successes of the past week and continue to put some tallies in the win column.
On Wednesday, November 27, the Flames look to get their second consecutive win against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Graduate of Mount Royal University’s Journalism program and a freelance sports writer from Calgary, Alberta.