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Heritage Classic: Five takeaways

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames

CALGARY -- Five Takeaways from the historic Heritage Classic from McMahon Stadium February 20, 2011 at McMahon Stadium.

The Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens became a part of history Sunday, playing outdoors at McMahon Stadium on a bluebird Alberta day with playoff implications on the line.

Rene Bourque scored twice, including No. 100 of his career, while Anton Babchuk and Alex Tanguay scored singles as the Flames defeated the Canadiens 4-0.

The win vaulted the Flames into sixth place in the Western Conference.


What a massive job it was to have ice for this game. Cold temperatures that rolled in late in the week had NHL ice guru Dan Craig and his crew on full alert. There were no Zamboni's used prior to the game or between periods. In true throwback to pond hockey fashion, the crew used a hose and scraper to prep the ice. Just prior to puck drop to open the game, there were two patch jobs being conducted. That was a sign of things to come as the ice needed patching throughout the game, particularly along the boards. And, oh yes, the puck was bouncing.From the outset you knew this was going to be dump and chase hockey -- not a skills display like an all-star game. A simple pass back to the point along the boards was never a guarantee. It was an adventure.

But the NHL pulled it off. "I think the ice got better as the game went along," noted forward Alex Tanguay.


Wow. The Lac La Biche native was certainly ready for this game. He gets credit for scoring the first goal of the Heritage Classic, a power play tally with the Flames enjoying a five-on-three. But he also had six shots in the first period, a period in which the Flames bombarded Montreal goalie Carey Price with 19 shots. Bourque would tally again in the second period, coming off the boards to beat Price with a backhand deke. He had 11 shots. "I think that is the most shots I've had in my career," said Bourque. Added teammate Brendan Morrison: "I thought it was one of his best games in a long time."


Many had been wondering how the goalies might manage to stay warm. The player benches are heated, meaning after a shift, the skaters were able to stay warm. But with a goalie, he is stuck in the net. Kiprusoff's answer was to hit the bench and grab a seat near the heater during television timeouts and during those times when the ice was being repaired. Whatever Kiprusoff did, it worked. He was calm, controlled rebounds and made several huge saves to keep Montreal from gaining momentum and collecting is fourth shutout of the season, stopping 39 shots.


The Flames set a record for shots in a period in an outdoor game, with 19 in the first period. That didn't last long, however, Montreal set the record in the second period with 21 shots. Coincidentally, both those shot totals came from the team that had the wind at their backs during the period. The teams switched ends midway through the third period just to keep things fair.


Players and coaches alike loved the event. It was nothing short of special for all those involved.

"This is a game that, after my career, I will remember and cherish," said Alex Tanguay. "For the fans to stay out there in their seats for three periods, it is pretty remarkable."

Even losing coach Jacques Martin had kind words.

"I think the NHL did a great job of organizing the event," said Martin. "The people of Calgary, as a host, were fantastic. Just the result of the game was unfortunate for us."


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