CALGARY, AB -- After a rough start to the month of December, the Flames have finished the year with three straight victories to place them one point back of the Northwest Division leaders, the Colorado Avalanche.
After defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Monday, the Flames were able to hand their divisional foes their eighth loss in nine games with a 2-1 victory on New Years Eve.
"It hasn't been a great month of December for us," Craig Conroy said. "We want to get headed in the right direction and the only way to do that is to win at home and we weren't winning at home so this is a big couple wins, three in a row here, and now we can look forward to getting going again."
With Curtis McElhinney taking over the goaltending duties, the Flames outplayed their provincial rival in every aspect of the game. They were defensively sound, only allowing 22 shots on net, and McElhinney played an extremely solid game.
"He played great," said Conroy. "I was hoping for a shutout there and a tough one at the end but it's such a good thing. We have confidence here in the room (in him) and he doesn't get to play much so to come in and play like that, he's going to get some more games and Miikka's going to get a well-deserved rest."
McElhinney didn't have the greatest day as he headed into the game. A flat tire on his drive home from practice created a bit of havoc for the Calgarian but he was able get himself back on track before game time.
"After the day I had, I just wanted that win," he said. "It was just a nightmare so I may as well just stayed here and slept at the rink it felt like."
"I'm glad I got that win. It kinda takes some of that pressure off the day."
The first period saw the Flames put 15 shots on Oilers goalie, Jeff Deslauriers. The youngster has been the Oilers starter since veteran Nikolai Khabibulan went down with an injury and he's really making a case to keep that position once Khabibulan is ready to go. He made several huge saves on the Flames, snapping up shot after shot with his glove. The Flames dominated territorially in the period but were unable to beat Deslauriers after 20 minutes.
Conroy finally put one past Deslauriers at 19:49 of the second period. Rene Bourque threw a pass to Conroy, who had parked himself in front of the net, and the veteran one-timed the puck over Deslauriers' shoulder.
When asked about the finesse factor of this goal compared to his empty-net tap in on Wednesday, Conroy could only chuckle.
"They're getting a little better so hopefully that's just a sign of things to come. It definitely helps your confidence to get one and then all of sudden, you just feel like the weight of the world is off your shoulders."
After going 36 games without a goal, Conroy has notched two tallies in two straight nights.
"You get that first one and good things happen. You feel comfortable," he laughed. "I'm happy to see goals. Hopefully it continues in 2010."
The third period was much of the same with the Flames outshooting the Oilers 11-7, hemming Edmonton in their own zone and finding a way to beat a hot Deslauriers.
With Sheldon Souray in the box for interference, the Flames went to work on the power play and it only took them 38 seconds to get results. Giordano sent a howitzer from the blueline off a faceoff and Curtis Glencross
managed to tip it past Deslauriers.The Oilers netminder had no chance to see the shot as he was screened by the Flames winger and the Edmonton penalty killers.
"We had lots of chances, lots of puck possession in their end so it was nice to finally see one go in," Glencross said.
Shawn Horcoff killed McElhinney's shutout bid with just 1:21 remaining in the game but the Oilers weren't able to generate any pressure after that, giving the Flames their 23rd win this season.
The Flames will open up 2010 by welcoming the Toronto Maple Leafs to the C of Red. Game time is 5:00 p.m. MST on CBC & The FAN 960.
|WHY CALGARY WON |
|After being badly outplayed by the Oilers in the first couple periods of their last contest, the Flames took a decidedly different approach to this game. They outshot the Oilers in every frame and dominated in terms of puck possession. Head coach Brent Sutter has talked about responsible puck management and the Flames were excellent in this is aspect. They made smart decisions when handling the puck and were able to hem the Oilers in their own zone for long stretches throughout the game. McElhinney played one of his best games this season, stopping 21 of 22 shots, and made a few clutch saves while the Flames were on the penalty kill. |
|GAME NOTES |
|D Staffan Kronwall and F Brian McGrattan were healthy scratches. D Cory Sarich remains out with a lower body injury. He has been skating since Dec. 29th but there is no projected date to return to the lineup ... this was the fifth round of the Battle of Alberta this season. The last contest takes place on Jan. 30, 2010 in Calgary ... Calgary Hitmen forward Brandon Kozoun scored the shootout winner in the Canada vs. USA World Juniors. The shootout took place during the second intermission and the crowd went absolutely wild when Kozoun potted the winner. It may have been the loudest intermission the Saddledome has seen. |
|THE NUMBERS GAME |
|McElhinney has 3 wins this season ... the Flames have won 5 straight against the Oilers this season ... Conroy needs 6 goals to reach 100 with the Flames. He has potted 2 goals in 2 games ... Bourque has 6 points in this last 3 games ... Bourque now has 11 points in 5 games against the Oilers ... Bourque sent 8 shots on net ... the Flames landed 30 shots on net by the 43:27 mark ... Bouwmeester has 2 helpers in as many nights ... 5 shots on net for Olli Jokinen ... the Flames now have 51 points on the season with a record of 23-12-5 ...Bouwmeester has played in 382 consecutive games, making him the NHL's current Ironman. |
|"It's just a Volvo sedan. A family car. Safe. Reliable." - McElhinney's response when asked what he drove before he cracked up laughing. |
"We're going to have some fun. I don't know what I'm going do. Well, we play in 48 hours so not too much. So a little bit of fun but we'll enjoy it. It's definitely going to be a little more fun after the wins." - Conroy on his New Years Eve plans.
"We got back to a little bit of soul searching and we have to have a better compete level throughout the lineup and I think we've done that the last four games." - Glencross on the team's performance in the month of December.
"Curtis played very well. He looked big in net." - Sutter on McElhinney's play against the Oilers.
|HARDEST WORKING FLAMES |
| || || || |
|Rene Bourque |
An Oilers killer - 11 points in 5 games against them
| ||Curtis McElhinney |
Made a few key saves in his third win this season
| ||Craig Conroy |
Two goals in as many nights - a sudden sniper