Now settled into a full month of regular season hockey, the Flames have surprised the rest of the league with the ease of their transition into a rebuild. And while the team’s hot streak cooled down halfway through October, the buzz around the Calgary franchise still remains mostly positive.
Most road trips through the Golden State are anything but golden for the Flames (last week the team was handed their first pair of back-to-back losses courtesy of the red-hot San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks), but Calgary managed to leave California with at least one win in the books.
It was all about the powerplays in Calgary’s victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, October 21. The Kings’ Drew Doughty opened the scoring with a powerplay goal late into the first period, but the Flames came back in retaliation in the second, with two powerplay goals of their own. Mike Cammalleri nabbed the equalizer in his first game back from a hand injury, and Sean Monahan, unwilling to let a game go by without his name being mentioned in a storyline, potted the go-ahead goal on a feed from Cammalleri just over the halfway mark of the second.
Not long after, Jeff Carter’s wrister beat Karri Ramo and the teams headed into the final frame tied at two.
The last 20 minutes were neck in neck. The Kings and Flames had 10 shots on goal apiece, but both goalies played spectacularly to keep the scoreboard at a stalemate. It was starting to look like the game was headed to overtime, but an unlikely hero stepped up for the Flames with only 30 seconds to go until the final buzzer sounded.
Defenseman T.J. Brodie capitalized on a man advantage as Anze Kopitar sat in the penalty box for the Kings on a hooking call. Brodie slipped the puck past Jonathan Quick from the left side of the net. Calgary’s third powerplay goal of the night ended up being the game winner, and the Flames beat the Kings 3-2.
The Flames were right back at it the following day in Phoenix against Shane Doan and the Coyotes, but this time the competition was not so evenly matched.
Joey MacDonald started in net against the league’s goalie with the most goals, Mike Smith. And while Smith failed to get a goal for the Coyotes this time around, the rest of the team made up for it.
Radim Vrbata drew first blood just under the halfway point of the first, and Mike Ribiero doubled Phoenix’s lead just past the halfway point of the second. Just as the period closed out, Lee Stempniak answered for the Flames with a wrist shot to cut the lead in half. The Flames were outshot by the Coyotes 20-12 in the first two periods.
In an attempt to prove that his acquisition from the Maple Leafs was a good one, Calgary native Joe Colborne evened up the scoring with a pretty little backhander early in the third. And although they picked up the pace significantly in the final frame, it was not enough to generate a victory.
Mike Smith became a door from that point on, and Ribiero scored once again to push the ‘Yotes ahead. Rob Klinkhammer added an empty netter with seconds left, to bring the final score to 4-2 Phoenix.
The Flames faced off against the Dallas Stars, who were also a team coming off of a tough road, with hopes of shaking off their loss in Phoenix. But it was all Dallas, all game long, from the very first goal by rookie Alex Chiasson 4 minutes into the first, to captain Jamie Benn’s game-winning wrap-around goal with 4 minutes left in the third. Both Chiasson and Benn had multi-point nights (Chiasson assisted on Benn’s goal, and had another of his own midway through the second. Seconds after Chiasson’s second goal, Benn scored his first of the game), and Brendon Dillon was able to sneak a puck past Karri Ramo to bring the Stars’ lead to 4. Lee Stempniak was the lone goal scorer for the slow and struggling Flames, a wrister that came five minutes into the second period.
Kari Lehtonen and Karri Ramo both stopped 29 shots, but unfortunately, the Stars’ shots on goal totalled 34.
Dallas’ win gave them their second victory in their last six games played, as they topped the Flames 5-1.
Karri Ramo was awarded the start for Calgary’s first game back at the Saddledome against the Washington Capitals. And rather than play like a tired and beaten down team that struggled throughout their road trip, the Flames came out looking strong, and held their own against the streaking Capitals.
For defenseman Kris Russell there was no better feeling than scoring his first as a Flame on home ice. The goal came just over a minute into the opening frame, and was followed up by another by Jiri Hudler six minutes after.
Jason Chimera cut the Capital’s deficit in half, but that would be the closest Washington would get in scoring to the Flames for the rest of the night. Mike Cammalleri brought Calgary back up by two when he deflected Dennis Wideman’s shot 48 seconds after Chimera’s goal.
The first period recorded 17 shots on goal for the Flames, while the Capitals only managed eight.
The second period was not as explosive as the first, with only one goal being scored by Washington’s Aaron Volpatti. But come the final 20 minutes and the Flames were back at it, padding their lead and sealing the deal against the Caps.
Mike Cammalleri nabbed his second of the night, followed by a sharp snapshot by Curtis Glencross, to bring the final score to 5-2 Calgary.
Glencross’s goal in the Washington game was his first point in the last six games, a slump that was garnering a lot of negative attention to the veteran winger who is usually a big contributor to the Flames roster.
Stay tuned for Week Five of The Flames Files and follow the Calgary Flames’ progress in the 2013-2014 season.