I never know what to expect from this team anymore. I expected Calgary’s defense to be deficient, but they surprised me. I expected the Flames to lose in the final minutes of the third period, which seems to be a trend during season, but they kept fighting. I expected our offensive players to forget about defending our own net again, but they stepped up their defensive game to hold off the Florida Panthers in the last few minutes of the game to force an overtime period. The Flames never cease to surprise me.
The Calgary Flames started the game looking motivated and sure of themselves. They held off the Panthers in their own zone even though they were called for three questionable penalties. The PK team looked good and they killed off three of three penalties. In the last five minutes of the period, one lost face-off led to a quick shot by ex-Oiler, Tom Gilbert, that put Florida on the board and opened the scoring. Berra didn’t see the puck through the screen in front of the Flames net, nor was he expecting it.
About halfway through the second period, Joe Colborne quietly snuck into a play near the sideboards in the Panther’s end, grabbed the puck, turned around, and took a wild shot on goal that tied the game at 1-1. Three minutes later, Baertschi (who has been in a fishbowl lately, under the watchful eye of Hartley and a lot of fans) passed the puck to the far side of the Florida net, quickly made his way to Thomas’s blind side, received a nice pass from Colborne, and buried it in the Panther’s net. The period ended in favour of the Flames, 2-1.
Barely two minutes into the last frame, McGrattan and Barch threw punches that landed hard and fast. But McGrattan is more than just a fighter recently. Besides the fact that he’s been taking a few shots on net during his most recent shifts, he’s also a defender and a focused, attentive player so far this season. It was a good tilt by two NHL heavyweights which sparked the Flames into action. Three minutes later, Blair Jones, the most recent call-up from the Abbotsford Heat, mimicked Baertschi’s antics in the second period. Jones passed the puck off to his teammates, took his place in front of the Panther’s net, and – a la Cammalleri – dropped down to one knee and took a hard shot on net to put the Flames in the lead by two goals. Two more goals by the Florida Panthers in the same period tied the score to take these teams to overtime.
Nothing was solved in OT and they went into the shootout. Six rounds in the shootout finally led the Flames win when Monahan went 2 for 2 in his shootout attempts, proving that even though he’s young, with limited NHL experience, the kid can play at any level. Flames took this one by a score of 4-3.
After the Panther’s scored two goals near the end of the third period, I was convinced it would be another game where the opposing team would win in the final seconds and the Flames would be skating off the ice with their proverbial tails tucked between their legs. I was wrong. The Flames came out strong and focused in the first period, holding off the Panthers to keep it scoreless going into the second. Even though there was a lull in the beginning of the second period, the Flames came back to open the scoring and set the tone for the rest of the game. The third period and overtime solved nothing, but the shootout attempts by Monahan have proved to a legion of fans that this kid is the real deal and he’s here to stay. Although Calgary had their moments of weakness, the Flames played well and earned their win. The young players were the stars of the night in a shining example of Flames playing three good periods of hockey.
My 1 Star
Joe Colborne. The more I watch Colborne, the more I see him fitting in well with the Flames and the more he’s producing for the team. He had one goal (among three shots on net) and one assist (on Baertischi’s goal) throughout the game which gave him two points for the night. His big frame helps him to own his position on ice and gives him chances to capitalize. Now, all he needs is a bit more confidence and he could be a very powerful forward on the Calgary Flames.