Calgary - November 28, 2011 - The Calgary Flames headed into Sunday’s affair against the Minnesota Wild losers of three straight games. Not letting that affect their game, a dominant performance against one of the best team’s the league has to offer ended the road trip in impressive fashion. A quick start for the Flames chased veteran goaltender Niklas Backstrom from the crease as he surrendered three goals on just eight shots to start the game.
An action packed first period of hockey was kick started by the home team as Cal Clutterbuck slipped in past the Flames defense to score his sixth goal of the year on coming via the powerplay at just shy of two minute mark of the first period. Finding that he should redeem himself for taking the first penalty of the game, Mark Giordano managed to tie the score on an unassisted marker that saw him beat Niklas Backstrom through the legs from a sharp angle.
The go ahead tally was scored a few shifts later when Lee Stempniak once again dabbled into his bag of tricks to dance around Wild defensemen Justin Falk before snapping in his fifth goal of the season. As the back and forth, highly entertaining period of hockey continued Nick Johnson knotted the game at two after Rene Bourque committed an atrocious turnover inside his own zone that directly led to an odd man rush in which the wild capitalized. However just forty seconds later, TJ Brodie scored his first career national hockey league goal as he moved in from the point to sneak a weak backhander past a sliding Niklas Backstrom. That marked the end of Backstroms night as he was pulled at the 8:45 mark of the first period.
Twenty seven year old Josh Harding was called in to relieve Backstrom off his duties, and was tested numerous times before the first period wound to and end. The second period came and went as the Flames found themselves down a man on three separate occasions. They managed to kill of all three infractions thrown there way. The second period did not result in any goals scored, but there was however a very humorous incident that saw Mark Giordano lose his skate blade after throwing a hit on the side boards. Needless to say Mark had a difficult time getting off of the ice as he stumbled his way like bambi to the Flames bench.
Just a minute and a half into the third, Alex Tanguay scored to increase the flames lead to two as he shoveled the puck into a gaping net after Josh Harding misplayed the puck around the boards. For once it was nice to see the boys get rewarded by a lucky bounce that resulted from hard work and determination. The Captain Jarome Iginla scored his 7th goal of the season after receiving a great pass from behind the net from linemate Curtis Glencross. Minnesota then went on to take a rather rare bench minor penalty following that sequence, as Iginla skated by their bench in celebration he received a face full of water by one of the players sitting on the Wild bench. Unable to score on the ensuing five on four, the game ground to an end with the Flames winning 5-2.
It amazes me how good this team can look when they are playing as a five man unit, especially after the prior three games in which we looked disinterested and unmotivated. With the win Calgary improves there record to 9-12-1 on the year, and will look to improve upon that as they head home for a two game home stand that begins Tuesday against the Nashville Predators.
Game Day Notes
Alex Tanguay left the game in the third period after falling awkwardly into the sideboards.
Scott Hannan had to leave the game late in the third period as Wild captain Mikko Koivu fell on top of Hannans outstretched leg. Both players appeared to be in a large amount of pain leaving the ice. ( No word yet on the severity of either of these injuries )
TJ Brodie scored his 1st career NHL goal. In his first eight games this season, the young defender has managed one goal and two assists alongside a +2 ration.
Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom held a personal nine game win streak against the Calgary Flames before being pulled just nine minutes into the game on Sunday.
Sundays Line Combinations
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Roman Horak - Rene Bourque
Blake Comeau - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Derek Smith - Scott Hannan
1. Jarome Iginla
2. TJ Brodie
3. Lee Stempniak