Game 1The Calgary Flames’ fifth week of the regular season began on a high note. 27 spots high, to be exact. After picking up seven points in their last five games, the Flames found themselves sitting at third overall in standings.
In their second meeting in just ten days, the Calgary Flames hoped to keep picking up the points against the Washington Capitals. This time the Flames faced the Caps on the road, with the opposing team’s superstar captain on the brink of reaching a milestone.
Although led by one of the NHL’s undoubted best players, the Capitals had been struggling of late, dropping their last four games prior to their matchup against the Flames. In addition to taking over the title of the Capitals’ all-time scoring leader from Peter Bondra, Alex Ovechkin also set out to put his team’s losing streak to a halt. Well, at least one of the Great 8’s goals were met on Tuesday night. Ovechkin managed to muster up two points, but his team didn’t.
Lance Bouma opened up the scoring for the Flames, ripping a wrister past Braden Holtby just shy of the first period’s halfway mark, but he was matched in under a minute by an attempted shot by Ovechkin, tipped in by Nicklas Backstrom.
Though Mark Giordano put the Flames back up ahead to start the second, the majority of the middle frame was dominated by the Caps. With 11 shots on goal to the Flames’ six, and two of those shots ending up behind Jonas Hiller, Washington had the edge going into the final period, 3-2.
Not to be discouraged by the deficit (as they have been proving to be their new MO), the Flames battled hard in the third, and with his second goal in as many games, 21-year old forward Markus Granlund had things all tied up at three with less than five minutes to play in regulation.
In similar last-minute fashion, Sean Monahan ended the game with 43 seconds left in overtime, denying Ovechkin a chance at a shootout, and his team a win at home.
The Flames topped the Caps 4-3.
The Flames’ schedule had them in Florida two days later to avenge their loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning just a few weeks prior, and to extend their win streak to four. But it was the Bolts who got to extend their own win streak, winning their fourth straight at home as they outmatched the visitors from start to finish.
21-year old centerman Cedric Paquette scored his first career NHL goal midway through the first period, with a little help from Jonathan Drouin. Minutes later, Jiri Hudler answered back for the Flames and Jonas Hiller successfully stopped any pucks from hitting the back of his net to keep the game tied throughout the first 20 minutes.
However, the next 4o minutes were a different story. Paquette nabbed his second of the night with a redirected shot from Vladimir Namestnikov. With the opportunity to even up once again on a Lightning penalty to Eric Brewer, the Flames failed to capitalize and instead, a turnover by Kris Russell led to a shorthanded goal by Brian Boyle.
With another Tampa team member sitting in the box, Sean Monahan was able to bring the Flames to within one once again, shooting a wrister past Ben Bishop.
All three goals of the second period were scored before the five-minute mark.
To make up for the embellishment that landed him in the sin bin prior to Monahan’s goal, Tyler Johnson scored 40 seconds into the third.
Despite the nine shots Calgary put on net in the final period, none were able to beat Bishop, and with Valteri Filppula’s game-ending empty-netter, the Flames fell to the Lightning 5-2.
The Florida Panthers have been another surprise story in the NHL early on in the season. With 11 points in their last 10 games and number one draft pick Aaron Ekblad on their roster, the Panthers were riding high on unprecedented success. And they didn’t seem to be slowing down Saturday night against the Calgary Flames.
Scottie Upshall gave the Panthers an early lead, just over a minute into the first, while goalie Al Montoya shut the door on all Flames attempts to get on the board for a solid 24 minutes.
Seconds after a tip-in by Nick Bjugstad gave Florida the 2-0 lead, David Jones nabbed his first of the season and cut the deficit in half.
What followed was a back-to-back display of offense, with goals being scored alternately by each team, courtesy of Scottie Upshall, Mark Giordano, Jiri Hudler and Jimmy Hayes. (Hayes’ goal was initially credited as Upshall’s but was quickly rescinded, denying Upshall of the hat trick.)
The third period began with the Panthers one-up on the Flames, but the home team failed to hold up momentum, while the Flames’ youth began to pick up some speed.
With his fourth goal in his last five games, Monahan tied the game at four from a feed from Johnny Gaudreau, whose assists now total six in his last five games.
It was Lance Bouma’s goal with less than five minutes to play that pushed the Flames ahead, and with Montoya on the bench in favour of an extra attacker for the Panthers, Gaudreau knocked in an empty netter to give the Flames the 6-4 victory over Florida.
The Flames are now sitting pretty at fourth place in the Western conference as the head into their Monday night matchup against the struggling Carolina Hurricanes.
Stay tuned for Week Six of The Flames Files and follow the Calgary Flames’ progress in the 2014-2015 season.
Graduate of Mount Royal University’s Journalism program and a freelance sports writer from Calgary, Alberta.