David Rittich showed no signs of rust in the opening stanza, make a few solid saves early. Other than a poor clearance attempt, Calgary’s number two settled into the contest nicely.
Johnny Gaudreau, who is tied with Evgeni Malkin for fourth in the league with 62 points, had some extra spunk in his step, almost potting a wraparound only two minutes in. Keith Kinkaid clamoured to desperately keep it out.
The Flames’ eighth best road penalty kill then went to work, showcasing its effectiveness by aggressively nullifying New Jersey’s time and space.
in the latter stages of the first, Kyle Palmieri beat Rittich clean with a devastating wrist shot but, carrying on with the theme from Chicago, the post came to the netminder’s rescue.
Rittich made a couple of good early saves on rookie Nico Hischier, who was unable to lift the puck from close range.
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The opening goal came when Monahan banged home his 26th on a rebound from an elevated Dougie Hamilton wrister. Hamilton banged his stick on the ice in anticipation of the pass, and Monahan obliged by feeding the opportunistic blueliner.
Hamilton has an innate knack for knowing when to pinch deep. But it was an elementary decision on this occasion, as the Devils gave Hamilton acres of space to move into.
Taylor Hall evened things up when Hamilton coughed the puck up in his own end, nullifying all the good work he did on Calgary’s opener.
Gaudreau scored his 18th of the season at the end of frantic sequence of play, which began with at the other end of the ice with a Devils’ 2-on-1.
Hall’s passed missed the intended target and the Flames broke quickly, with Micheal Ferland sending Gaudreau on a partial breakaway. The Flames’ leading scorer beat Kinkaid through the wickets on a backhand to restore the one-goal advantage. Gaudreau probably should have been penalized for a hooking infraction as the Devils’ 2-on-1 was developing, but Flames fans are thankful neither ref raised an arm.
Calgary’s top line continued their utter dominance as Monahan hit the post twice in quick succession, banking the second – an instinctive first-time slapper – in to double the away side’s advantage.
Rampant and brimming with confidence, Gaudreau almost put the Flames up by three seconds later. Kinkaid, however, finally got the better of Calgary’s diminutive talisman, albeit briefly.
Rittich was solid again in the third, thwarting several chances as New Jersey tried claw back into the game. The Flames played more conservatively in the final stanza, battening down the hatches to make sure they escaped New Jersey with two points.
New Jersey were rewarded later in the third, scoring a power play goal to halve the deficit. Pavel Zacha scored his fourth with the man advantage, backhanding it through Rittich’s five-hole.
Shortly thereafter, Travis Zajac batted the puck out of midair from a point shot and would have equalized had it not hit Rittich’s pad. The Flames’ netminder was rather fortunate, as he was unaware of Zajac’s grounder.
The Flames were outshot 12-1 in the third but, by the skin of their teeth, held on to victory.
Monahan now has a goal in four straight contests and has scored 10 game-winning goals this season, tied for third most in franchise history with a certain Jarome Iginla. Only Joe Nieuwendyk (11) and Joe Mullen (12) scored more in a single season.
With the win, Calgary leapfrogged the Kings into third place in the Pacific Division. The Flames will hop on the bus for the short sojourn to New York as they prepare for the Rangers in the second half of the back-to-back tomorrow night.