VANCOUVER, BC -- After a verbal lashing from head coach Brent Sutter, the Calgary Flames responded and they responded big time.
The Flames pulled out a 3-2 shootout victory against their divisional rivals, the Vancouver Canucks, and secured sole posession of first place in the Northwest Division.
"I'm not so sure it was about a challenge," Sutter told CBC. "I wanted our team to reconize the way we need to play and how have to play to have success. I guess if you want to see the response, tonight we played a strong game. That's what we should expect from ourselves on a nightly basis."
The Flames outshot the Canucks in every period, ending up with a 40-21 differential, and were checking player after player. The gritty style is something the coaching staff has emphasized and the team appeared to have gotten the message, loud and clear.
"The bottom line is we know how we need to play if we want to have success," Sutter added "Our effort here tonight was a good effort by everybody."
If you want an example of just how big of a rivarly not only the teams but the fans have built around these two clubs, look no further than the laser pointer controversy. A Canucks fan was directing a laser pointer's beam at Miikka Kiprusoff
all night, trying to throw the Finnish netminder off. Despite the Flames coaching staff asking GM Place sercurity to track down the individual, the laser beam was pointed at Kiprusoff until late in the third period, presumably when the individual realized he or she was about to caught.
"It was going on night," Sutter said in his post-game press conference. "It was brought to the attention of the refs and security and it's hard to believe that can go on for 60 minutes in a hockey game and it's not located and not found.
"It's a distraction to our goaltender and security did mention they were trying to locate it but I heard after the game it was spotted on TV where it was. So it's too bad it went 60 minutes of a hockey game and never was rectified."
Rene Bourque continued on his torrid offensive pace with a beautiful goal early in the first period. The opening goal was scored when Bourque went steaming through the Canucks zone, cut across the blue paint and went to his forehand, scoring short side on Roberto Luongo. It was Bourque's eighth point in eight games.
The Canucks responded with goals from Mikael Sameulsson and Henrik Sedin but that did not faze the boys in red. They kept pressing until they found a way around the red-hot Luongo.
Jamie Lundmark, in just his second game back since being recalled from the Abbotsford Heat, scored the equalizer on a goal Luongo would surely love to have back. After Olli Jokinen
won the faceoff deep in the Canucks zone, the puck pinballed around until Lundmark was able to tap the puck and it slipped through the five hole.
"Obviously, to come up from the minors and be playing with Olli and Iggy, it's big for me," Lundmark told the assembled media. "I'm just trying to go out there every night and do whatever I can to help the team win."
Both goaltenders had seen enough after that and shut the door, forcing the game into overtime and then a shootout. Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond did score for the Canucks but Ryan Kesler hit the post. Nigel Dawes, Olli Jokinen
and Lundmark all scored the for Flames.
"Yeah, I had an idea what I was going to do," Lundmark said of his game-winning goal. "Some guys were giving me a hard time for a little extra move way before the goalie. But I usually don't go in without a plan. It worked."
The Flames head right back to Calgary for three straight home games. The Avalanche will be visiting the Flames on Monday with the puck dropping at 8:00 p.m. MST on Rogers Sportsnet West & The FAN 960.
|WHY CALGARY WON |
|The Flames played one of their best games of the season, outshooting the Canucks and making sure every shift a Canucks player took was one where they were punished. The hits were 39-22 for the Flames after regulation and overtime, mirroring what the shot clock said. The Flames, not known for outshooting their opponents by a large margin, put 40 shots on Luongo compared to the 21 the Canucks threw at Kiprusoff. The Canucks were able to grab the lead in the second period but instead of getting discouraged, the Flames got mad and it paid off. |
|GAME NOTES |
|D Staffan Kronwall, D Aaron Johnson and F Fredrick Sjostrom were healthy scratches which means F Brian McGrattan was inserted into the lineup. It was McGrattan's first game since Dec. 27, ironically, also against the Canucks. Kiprusoff was back in net after Curtis McElhinney started on Friday night against the Blue Jackets ... this was the fourth of six meetings between the Flames and Canucks this season. |
|THE NUMBERS GAME |
|Lundmark has 2 goals in 2 call-ups (8 games total) this season ... Bourque has 8 points in his last 8 games ... Cory Sarich picked up his 3rd assist/point of the year on Bourque's goal ... Brandon Prust fought Rick Rypien 2 times in the first 2 periods ... after 40 minutes, the Flames were outshooting the Canucks 26-11. After 60 minutes they were 37-20 for the Flames ... this was the Flames 4th game in 5 nights ... Nigel Dawes had 5 hits in the first 2 periods alone ... Jokinen has 21 assists this season ... David Moss had 8 shots on net. |
|"It's a big game, a big divisional game for us. There's certainly a rivalry between these two teams and we need to have energy. If we want to have success on a regular basis, we need energy, we need life and we need everyone contributing in those ways." - Brent Sutter on contest. |
"Heh ... there was a couple of pretty good scraps. That's old time hockey." - Brent Sutter, with a rarely seen grin, on the Prust/Rypien fights.
|HARDEST WORKING FLAMES |
| || || || |
|Jamie Lundmark |
Scored the Flames tying goal and the shootout winner
| ||Rene Bourque |
Scored the games opening goal, 5 shots and 4 hits
| ||Brandon Prust |
An absolute warrior with 2 marathon scraps with Rypien