CALGARY, AB -- A snowstorm in Southern Alberta couldn’t stop the Vancouver Canucks.
Turns out Daniel Taylor could.
Taylor made 29 saves en route to his first career NHL victory as the Calgary Flames topped the Canucks 4-2 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday night.
Locked in a 2-2 tie late in the third period, Jarome Iginla’s centering pass to Jiri Hudler instead deflected off Vancouver blueliner Jason Garrison and behind starter Roberto Luongo with 7:24 remaining in the game.
With the Canucks pressing to tie in the dying minutes, Taylor stopped Henrik Sedin in close while Jay Bouwmeester’s block took away an empty net tap-in for the Canucks captain. Finding the back of an empty net, Mike Cammalleri secured Taylor’s first win by sending the puck into an empty net with just 23 seconds remaining.
Though terrible weather delayed the Canucks from flying out of Vancouver yesterday, the team was quick to get on the scoreboard against the Flames. On a clear-cut breakaway, Chris Higgins fired the puck past Taylor’s blocker to put the Canucks up 1-0 on just their second shot of the game at 7:49.
Calgary responded courtesy Cammalleri’s first of the game at 15:44, a floater from just inside the blueline hit Luongo’s glove and bounced into the net to send the game into the first intermission tied.
Jannik Hansen restored that two-goal lead after an incredible save by Luongo off Sven Baertschi. Looking at a virtually empty net after Iginla’s rebound hit his stick, Baertschi fired a shot that Luongo was able to throw a pad at.
Taking the puck up the ice on the ensuing rush, Hansen batted Cam Barker’s rebound out of mid-air and behind Taylor for the 2-1 lead 2:36 into the second period.
Lee Stempniak struck for his sixth of the season to even the game at 6:15. On the ensuing faceoff, newly acquired Brian McGrattan dropped the gloves in a spirited tilt against Tom Sestito that swung momentum Calgary’s way, an advantage they would carry for the rest of the game.
GOAL OF THE GAME
Initially denied by Luongo on a partial breakaway set up by Derek Smith, Stempniak picked up a loose centering pass by Matt Stajan in the slot and fired it over the glove of the Canucks keeper to tie the game 2-2 at 6:15 of the second period.
SAVE OF THE GAME
Setting up shop behind the net, Daniel Sedin found Alexandre Burrows parked at the top of the crease, who was then denied by the stick of Taylor midway through the second period.
HIT OF THE GAME
Chasing down a puck in the Vancouver zone, McGrattan sent Garrison for a ride before flattening Henrik Sedin near the Flames bench with four minutes remaining in the opening frame.
McGrattan’s fight near the midway mark of the second period – just Calgary’s sixth major for fisticuffs this season – sparked the Flames and set the tone for the second half of the game.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“I had no idea. I don’t celebrate too often. I do it when I feel the time is right. Had I known that would be a 10 I wouldn’t have done it. I felt it was the right time, get some energy going in the building and maybe it was worth it.”
-McGrattan on his fight and subsequent 10-minute misconduct
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Not only did Dennis Wideman lead the game in ice time with over 26 minutes of action, the Flames blueliner was also tops in blocked shots with four.
Forward Tim Jackman and defencemen Anton Babchuk and Cory Sarich were the scratches for the Flames against the Canucks on Sunday.
Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and forwards Paul Byron and Mikael Backlund remain out of the lineup due to injury.
The Flames play host to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. MT, TSN) before taking off to California for a three game set starting on Friday against the Anaheim Ducks (8:30 p.m. MT, SNET-FLAMES) before a back-to-back set against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday (8 p.m. MT, CBC) and Monday (8 p.m. MT, SNET-W).