Resilient Flames Fight For Gutsy 5-3 Win Over Wild
Despite trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes, the Calgary Flames found a way to take a pair of leads in a 5-3 win — their fourth in a five-game homestand.
Anyone else get the feeling the Calgary Flames are getting tired of mediocrity?
They still have work to do. So much work. But they had to dig deep repeatedly to string together a third straight win, 5-3 over the Minnesota Wild, for just the second time this season.
The first was way back in October when they won their first three games out of the gate.
Since then, the Flames have had to deal with a whole lot of doubt — at least externally.
Why doesn’t Jonathan Huberdeau work with Tyler Toffoli? When is Nazem Kadri going to snap out of his slump? Why doesn’t Andrew Mangiapane look like a 30-goal scorer this year? How is the powerplay so awful? When is Milan Lucic getting scratched? Why won’t they promote Matthew Phillips from the farm? What’s up with all the early goals against? Did the Edmonton Oilers break goaltender Jacob Markstrom last spring?
That’s a small sampling of some of the questions that have been asked the past couple of months. Not without merit. It’s like the team that won the Pacific Division last year had a blood transfusion and hasn’t quite gotten used to the new mix.
But something changed on this five-game homestand. They may not be winning with flash, but they’re winning.
You wouldn’t have guessed it was possible after the first couple of minutes of Wednesday’s contest against the Wild.
The Wild scored twice in the first 2:25 of the game. Kirill Kaprizov opened the scoring with a deflection of a Matt Dumba point shot so hard that it snapped his stick on the tip. That was just 1:27 into the game, extending Kaprizov’s point streak to 13 games. He’s been hot.
“Started off as a hot player tonight, too,” Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said after the game. “He’s a star, he’s a great player.”
The Flames may not have the same sort of game-changer but they didn’t quit after Mason Shaw put the visitors up by two on a two-on-one a little more than a minute later.
They got some momentum with a couple of powerplays late in the first period and then stole the lead with three straight goals just a few minutes into the second.
Kadri scored for a second straight game, getting another powerplay goal just 16 seconds in. Blake Coleman scored for the second time in three games to make it 2-0 at the 1:37 mark. Then Toffoli put in his ninth with a man-advantage marker at 3:11 to change the complexion of the game.
But with Jon Merrill scoring his first of the year on a lucky bounce off Chris Tanev’s shin pad, the Calgary Flames had to find some finish.
Rasmus Andersson provided it with a perfect pinch on the very next shift. He scooped the puck up from Coleman and made a great shot on the move across the crease to net the winner on his third point of the night.
Toffoli scored his second of the evening into an empty net to add the insurance and Dan Vladar was solid for about 58 minutes to earn his fourth straight.
“Not the start we wanted. First 10 minutes weren’t good enough,” Andersson said afterward. “Momentum — when you score 15 seconds into the second period, we kept going.
“I thought we controlled the game after that. They got a bounce and the puck went in … but we scored the shift after. It was a big win for our team – now we keep building.”