I guess I needed that adversity. Stuff like that happens. You’ve just got to put it behind you and not let it affect you. It was great. Great tonight. - Joni Ortio
VANCOUVER, BC -- It was a long road for Joni Ortio to record his first career National Hockey League shutout. He’s not all that upset about it, though.
In his first NHL start of the season, Ortio made 36 saves to backstop the Calgary Flames to a 1-0 shutout victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday.
“I guess I needed that adversity,” Ortio said. “Stuff like that happens. You’ve just got to put it behind you and not let it affect you. It was great. Great tonight. The guys did a heck of a job in front of me and kept them outside pretty much the whole game. They didn’t get a lot of ‘Grade A’ chances.”
Not bad, considering Ortio had flights delayed, cancelled and re-routed in an effort to join the Flames in Calgary on Friday after being recalled from the Adirondack Flames of the AHL.
He set all that aside.
“It wasn’t fun, I can tell you that much,” said Ortio, who has a 17-8-1 record with a 2.52 goals against average and .916 save percentage with Adirondack this season. “There was a huge snowstorm in Chicago and I kind of got stranded there. Cancelled my flight and I went through Toronto and then Winnipeg on the way to Calgary. That’s not (direct). I had no shorter route than that.”
The 23-year-old settled in early, making 15 saves in the first period and another 13 in the second. He tacked on an additional eight to preserve the blanking.
“I thought that he was in control right from the first shift,” Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. “His rebound control was great. Great focus. Big win. We did a good job. I thought that we defended well. He didn’t get to face many rebounds but when we needed him he was there.”
His teammates knew what Ortio was up against.
It left them even more impressed with the native of Turku, Finland.
“It was great to see. Joni was great for us tonight,” said Backlund, whose goal -- his third since returning from abdominal surgery that kept him out 29 games -- was all the offense Calgary required. “He didn’t have it easy coming in here, either. Tough couple of travel days. He didn’t get much sleep. It was great to see. It was such a great performance.”
Tack on another flight to Vancouver -- albeit direct this time -- and Hartley playing coy in not naming a starter to the media against the Canucks.
But Ortio, who has been named to the 2015 AHL All-Star Game, knew.
“Last night,” he admitted.
“I think playing in Vancouver (I was) excited, excited to get a chance to show what I got.”