VANCOUVER, BC -- If anything, the Calgary Flames proved on Saturday there’s still some fight left in them.
But despite a full card on display at the opening bell, the Flames fell 3-2 against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday.
It took just two seconds from the drop of the puck for a full-on line brawl to develop featuring five simultaneous tilts. Brian McGrattan and Tom Sestito squared off while Kevin Westgarth and Kellan Lain tangled. Blair Jones with Dale Weise, Ladislav Smid with Kevin Bieksa and Chris Butler with Jason Garrison also dropped the gloves in the penalty filled affair.
Westgarth, Jones, Weise, Smid and Butler were all ejected from the game for the Flames. Bieksa, Garrison, Weise and Lain were also kicked out.
Roughing minors continued sporadically once play got underway, while both Zack Kassian and Shane O’Brien also received 10-minute misconducts early on.
In all, the two teams combined for 178 minutes in penalties in just 11 minutes of action.
After a scoreless opening period, Mark Giordano opened the scoring for the Flames.
On the ensuing faceoff after a Ryan Kesler holding minor, Giordano slid down from the point and had the puck skip out to him from the scrum before ripping a shot between the legs of Roberto Luongo just 1:37 into the second.
But just over two minutes later, Kesler knotted the game, redirecting a Kassian pass through Karri Ramo to make it 1-1.
The Flames continued to press late in the frame but it was Luongo who stood tall.
First, the Canucks goaltender flashed a quick glove after Mikael Backlund picked the pocket of a Vancouver defenceman before firing a high shot from the top of the circle with 1:30 remaining. With only 35 seconds left in the period, he denied Lee Stempniak on the doorstep after Jiri Hudler spotted him with a nifty back-door pass.
Matt Stajan put the Flames up 2-1 at 4:01 of the third. After Lance Bouma’s centering pass skipped in the slot, Stajan spun around and fired a backhand that beat Luongo over the blocker to snap a 12-game scoring drought and give Calgary the one-goal edge.
That lead held until 11:48 when, with Giordano in the box for slashing, Yannick Weber wired a one-timer over the shoulder of Ramo to tie the game 2-2.
It stayed that way through the rest of regulation and overtime, prompting a shootout where Chris Higgins scored the winner in the fifth round.
GOAL OF THE GAME
With Kesler in the box for holding, Giordano made the Canucks pay. With a scrum off the ensuing faceoff, Giordano slid down into the slot and had the puck find him before rifling a shot between the legs of Luongo just 1:37 into the second period to put Calgary up 1-0.
SAVE OF THE GAME
A blocker save by Ramo off Daniel Sedin’s slap shot with 4:01 remaining kept the game tied 2-2.
Higgins goal in the fifth round of the shootout downed the Flames.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Flames and Canucks combined for 178 minutes in penalties in the first 11 minutes of the bout. They had just 26 over the remaining 49 minutes of the game. The 204 combined minutes in penalties is a record between the two clubs.
Derek Smith, Ben Street and David Jones (eye) all missed the game against the Canucks. Kris Russell (MCL sprain), Mike Cammalleri (concussion), Curtis Glencross (high ankle sprain) also missed the game due to injury.
The Flames play their second of two games away from Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday against the San Jose Sharks (8:30 MT, SNET-W, Sportsnet 960 The Fan).