The St. Louis Blues are surging, mainly thanks to an offensively-charged first line and an unexpected winger who has found himself alongside the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin in terms of league-leading scoring. Unfortunately, (but luckily for starting goalie Reto Berra) Alexander Steen was diagnosed with a concussion two days prior, and was not in the lineup against the Calgary Flames on Monday, December 23rd.
Although the game itself was relatively low-scoring, and the top line wasn’t responsible for any of the Blues’ tallies, it seemed early on that St. Louis would take the win.
Kevin Shattenkirk got his team on the scoreboard first with a powerplay goal on an interference call to Mark Giordano. His lone goal of the period came at the seven-minute mark.
In the second, Jiri Hudler answered back with a powerplay goal of his own, to tie the game 1-1 just over the halfway point of the period. From there it seemed the ice started to tilt towards the Flames’ end, as St. Louis scored back-to-back goals courtesy of Jaden Schwartz and Magnus Paajarvi.
A 3-1 St. Louis lead began the third, but a show of leadership from the Calgary Flames’ veterans put the home team right back in the game. Off a feed from Paul Byron, Mike Cammalleri banged one in to cut the deficit to one. And with just five seconds to go, Giordano pulled a Captain Clutch move on the powerplay and tied the game at 3, as Blues’ centerman Patrik Berglund sat in the sin bin on a roughing penalty. On the man advantage once again during the overtime period, the Flames failed to capitalize and Berra denied the three St. Louis shots on net to force the game to a shootout.It only took three rounds, one pretty little deke by Joe Colborne that resulted in a goal, and three stopped attempts by Berra to lift the Flames to the 4-3 win over the Blues.
Another month, another Battle of Alberta. In the first of two home stands against their two main rivals, the Flames looked to redeem themselves for the embarrassing game against the Oilers on November 16th, where they blew a 2-0 lead and ended up losing 4-2.
Well, they didn’t blow a lead this time around, but that’s because the Flames failed to score a goal at all during the entire game. In fact, throughout the three periods, the Flames lacked energy and they played far from a complete game. Shots on goal were evenly matched throughout 60 minutes (28-27 Edmonton), but while Devan Dubnyk managed to stop all of the pucks from sailing past him, two ended up in the Flames net, resulting in an Oilers victory of 2-0.
The first goal was a deflected shot that was buried home by Ryan Smyth, with under five minutes to go in the first.
The next 39 minutes to follow did not produce a goal from either team, although just over halfway into the third, it appeared that Mark Giordano had evened things up at 1. Giordano’s wrister indeed crossed the goal line but was waved off immediately due to Joe Colborne hindering Dubnyk’s movement.
With Berra pulled for an extra attacker and the clock winding down with only six seconds remaining in the third, Smyth nabbed his second goal of the night with an empty-netter.
The Flames face their provincial rivals two more times in the remainder of the season, both times in Edmonton in the month of March. For those die-hard Flames fans with a burning hatred for the boys in blue and orange, March may seem a bit far away to avenge the record of 0-2 but hopefully when the time comes, the Flames can break even and split the series.
The Vancouver Canucks, fresh off two consecutive wins against the Chicago Blackhawks and the Winnipeg Jets and a weeklong break, rolled into Cowtown on Sunday night and dealt the Flames a similar fate to the night before against the Oilers. There were no stone hands on the visiting team, and rookie goalie Eddie Lack was a door while the Flames once again struggled to find an offensive spark. The Canucks nearly doubled the Flames’ shots on goal throughout the game, with two of the shots ending up behind Reto Berra.
The first one was a wrister from Jannik Hansen at 19: 20 in the first. The second came at 17:44 in the third, another wrister from Mike Santorelli that sealed the Canucks’ victory.
And although it was once again a low-scoring game, there was no shortage of controversy.
Brian McGrattan was slapped with several penalties, particularly an elbowing penalty to Andrew Alberts, that resulted in a possible concussion to the Canucks defenseman. The move aroused speculation that McGrattan would face supplementary discipline, but McGrattan has stated that he has yet to hear from Brendan Shanahan and the NHL.
With their 2-0 loss to the Canucks, the Flames have now dropped seven of their last ten games. One game remains in 2013 for the 27th place team, against the Philadelphia Flyers and their red-hot captain Claude Giroux on Tuesday, December 31st.
Graduate of Mount Royal University’s Journalism program and a freelance sports writer from Calgary, Alberta.