BOSTON - Tonight, we learned a lot about these Flames.
There were good things and bad, but the overriding impression that Geoff Ward was left with following Friday's loss was that of pride.
They stuck with these very same Bruins. They dug deep, went blow for blow, and gave the visiting squad everything they could handle in a tight, but highly entertaining 4-3 game at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Imagine the feeling now, having walked into the Bear's Den - a place where the homeside had lost only twice in regulation all year - and handing the big, bad Bruins a taste of their own medicine.
The Bruins evened things up with a short-handed marker at 10:08 of the middle stanza. The Flames had trouble generating much of anything offensively, and as the second unit took to the ice for the remaining half-minute, a turnover at the offensive blueline proved costly.
Brad Marchand took the puck in on a breakaway and made no mistake in tight, roofing a forehand shot over the blocker.
The Flames had otherwise dominated the period to this point, out-shooting the B's 10-5 and clearly having the better of the scoring chances.
In fact, Johnny Gaudreau had a breakaway about five minutes earlier, but couldn't beat Rask with a shot from between the hash marks.
On this night, though, the Flames were all business and didn't let a mistake like that rattle them. Gaudreau and Monahan hooked up with a beauty only 3:17 later to put the visitors back in front, 2-1.
Gaudreau shook off a defender at the far circle and delivered a filthy little pass to Monahan in the slot. It was on and off the stick in the blink of an eye, with No. 23 hitting the 20-goal plateau for the seventh-straight year.
Of course, the play by Gustafsson made the whole thing possible. His ability to work the puck up top navigate through tight space and feather a pass down to Tkachuk off the half wall was impressive, to say the least.
Two goals in only 72 seconds to take back the game.
The Flames were having flawless third period until a goalmouth scramble with 6:51 to play somehow snuck through, making it a one-goal game. Chris Wagner was credited with the goal after getting a poke in tight and beating Rittich five-hole, and suddenly, the pressure was on.
But the Flames had put a clinic on in the final five minutes, neutralizing the Bruins' big guns and scoring a pair to ice a 5-2 victory.
"I thought it was an excellent effort by our guys. We played with an awful lot of composure. This is a hard building to play in, but I thought we came in and did a really good job in terms of staying focus. We did a really good job of being emotionally attached to the game, but not being out of control emotionally. I thought we did a real good job in our end; we got pucks moving forward. All in all, it was a real good effort by our team."
WARD ON THE RESPONSE AFTER THE BRUINS CUT THE DEFICIT LATE:
"It was good. We were talking about making sure everybody had a good shift the next one out. There are going to be ebbs and flows in a game. We're going to get goals, and we're going to get goals scored against us. I thought the guys did a really good job re-grouping. We bumped the next shift up and starting carrying forward again and took the momentum back. It was a really good job by a team that's showing resiliency to be more and more of a characteristic every day."
SEAN MONAHAN ON THIS BEING A 'CHARACTER' WIN:
"Guys up front, some of us have been here for a long time. It's up to us to take control and lead this team to where we want to be. Everybody has the same goal right now and we all want to be a part of it."
MONAHAN ON CLOSING IT OUT LATE:
"Guys were paying the price. We were here to win and you've got to do what you've got to do to get the two points."
MIKAEL BACKLUND ON SPAT WITH BRAD MARCHAND:
"He didn't say anything. He just did his classic smile, so it feels really good to give it back to him by winning and scoring. ... It felt great. When things like that happen, too, it feels even better."
BACKLUND ON TEAM'S EXCELLENT DEFENSIVE EFFORT:
"I don't think we gave up too much. I thought everyone chipped in and played really well and defensively, I thought we were really strong."
ERIK GUSTAFSSON ON HIS FIRST GAME WITH THE FLAMES:
"I felt pretty good. I'm a little tired. I haven't played a game since last Tuesday or something like that, but it's easy to play with Forbs and I think we played pretty well. I think we handled it pretty well and it was fun to be out there with the guys."
Mark Giordano, who's missed the past nine games with a hamstring injury, was a game-time decision but did not play. The skipper looked to be ready, skating alongside his usual partner, TJ Brodie, at the morning skate, but needed the afternoon rest up and see how his body reacted before making the final call. "Been ramping it up the last week, week-and-a-half," Giordano said. "It feels really good, really comfortable. We've done everything. There's been days when I've taken contact and days when you push it skating. Obviously, the staff here does an unbelievable job with the treatment, It feels really good and turned the corner quick. Hopefully I can get back there, if not tonight then the next game. You get that excitement back again when you come back. You get that surge of adrenaline in skating with the guys. It's going to be good energy that I've saved up the last three weeks." … On Monday, the Flames acquired defencemen Derek Forbort and Gustafsson in separate deadline-day trades. Both made their Flames debuts on Tuesday, with Forbort playing 17:54, and Gustafsson, 21:00. … Kudos to interim head coach Geoff Ward, who put former Bruin Milan in the starting lineup. Nice touch! Lucic played eight seasons with the B's, recording 342 points (139G, 203A) in 566 regular-season games, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 (with Ward, no less).
Here are the forward lines, D pairings and goalie to start the game:
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Andrew Mangiapane Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Dillon Dube Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Tobias Rieder
Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson Derek Forbort - Erik Gustafsson
The Flames are back in action on Thursday as they continue a season-long, five-game road trip with a date against the Predators. Following that, it's off to the Sunshine State, where the team will close out the trip with a back-to-back on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Sunday against the Florida Panthers. The Flames return to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday, Mar. 4 when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets (click here for tickets).