Five Takeaways from Minnesota at at Calgary Saturday December 18 at the Scotiabank Saddledome...
They are tight in the standings. They both play solid defensive hockey.
So, would we expect anything less than a tight game between the Wild and the Flames.
And that's what we got Saturday in the first of back-to-back games between these two teams who will meet again Monday in Minnesota. Not a lot of shots. Not a lot of great scoring chances. Very few odd-man rushes.
After a scoreless first period the Wild struck for two goals in the second and then added one more early in the third to defeat the Flames 3-0. It's the identical score of a November 29 game played at the 'Dome between the two teams, except the Flames had the three tallies.
The Flames finish a three-game homestand that started on Monday with a 2-1-0 record.
Points are what this is all about and there was little doubt that the Flames were disappointed not to get two points against a division rival. At the same time, the Wild have to be given some credit for playing a solid road game and capitalizing on their chances.
No faulting the Flames effort though. They outshot the Wild 29-16 and pressured the Wild hard in the third period, outshooting them 15-4 in the final frame.
Only Matt Stajan was able to find the back of the net.
"I thought they were opportunistic tonight. We didn't generate enough. It was tight all around," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla.
Stajan said the Flames can't dwell on the loss, though. They need to put in a strong effort Monday in Minnesota.
"We have to show resilience," said Stajan. "We've got to be desperate to get all those points and bounce back from what was a frustrating game to play in."
From the media notes. The Flames are 18-2-1 versus the Wild when Jarome Iginla has a goal, 25-6-4 when Iginla records a point and 13-0-0 when he has two or more points in a game. The Flames captain, who entered the game on a nine-game point streak (5 goals, 7 assists), is also the NHL player with the most goals against the Wild. He has 31 goals in 57 games against the Wild, 13 more tallies than any other player.
By the way, Iginla has gone back to a straigher pattern on his stick -- something similar to what he used in 2001-02 when he scored 52 goals.
Even more from the game notes: Miikka Kiprusoff has allowed two goals or less in 31 of 41 starts versus Minnesota. Saturday wasn't one of them.
Through the first 20 minutes of play there were 13 blocked shots. Seven for Calgary and six for the Wild. There had only been 15 shots combined in the first period. That shows just how hard it can be some nights to score goals. Teams play differently now. Defencemen don't always chase pucks to the corners anymore. They hold back a little and almost form a box, like in lacrosse, to prevent people and pucks from getting through to the net.
It demonstrates how important developing chances off the turnovers in the neutral zone and creating chances off your rush are in today's game. That, and being patient when it comes to scoring.
It's what the Wild did. They scored their three goals on six shots that spanned about 28 minutes of hockey.
"That's a road game for them," said Flames defenceman Mark Giordano. "They came in here and buried their chances. Yeah, we were in their zone but we didn't score. It's our rink. We have to find a way to be the better team. We have to find a way to win."
For the record the Wild blocked 19 shots and the Flames blocked 16 on the night.
Curtis Glencross was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Obviously it is frustrating for Glencross who has seven goals and five assists in 30 games this season.
He has speed, is good on the forecheck and an effective penalty killer. But the coaching staff say they want more from him. He will have to displace someone like Tom Kostopoulos, Tim Jackman or perhaps Ales Kotalik. That's a tall order, especially considering the way Kostopoulos and Jackman are playing lately. Kotalik, however, saw little ice time in the final period.
Chances are Glencross will have an invigorated game when he returns from the press box. There is nothing like being a healthy scratch to re-evaluate your game. And once a player gets back in, they don't want to find themselves back in the press box.
The fourth line. Just had to like the play of David Moss, Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos. In a grinding game like Saturday's, they played a big role. On several shifts they controlled the puck and generated some scoring chances -- exactly what you need from a checking/energy line.
Jackman had two shots on net while Moss was 50 per cent in the face-off circle.
They also got plenty of ice time for their effort, too. And it almost paid off in the third when they crashed the net and almost jammed one past Niklas Backstrom.
They finished with eight shots on net and all three played more than 10 minutes -- a fair bit for a fourth line.