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SLAYING THE DRAGON

Flames blank Ducks for first win in Anaheim since 2004

by ARI YANOVER @NHLFlames / calgaryflames.com

The monkey is off their back.

With a little help from Jobu.

Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund scored for the Flames, while Mike Smith stopped all 43 shots he faced en route to a 2-0 win in Anaheim over the Ducks.

It was Smith's first shutout as a Flame, and the 34th of his career.

"Just trying to be solid back there for this group," Smith said. "I've learned a lot over my career and one is that, just look after what I can control. That's going to be my job this year. Just whatever happens in the game, whether it's 43 or 20 (shots), I've got to be back there and strong for this group."

This was the first time the Flames have won in Anaheim in the regular season since Jan. 19, 2004. They will return there Dec. 29, and then host Anaheim twice to close out the season series.

Monahan's goal came with Kevin Bieksa sitting in the box for crosschecking him. 

Video: Smith, Flames shut out Ducks, 2-0

The play started with TJ Brodie at the point passing to Johnny Gaudreau on the left side of the ice, to Kris Versteeg on the right. Versteeg's attempted pass deflected off of a Duck's stick to Monahan in the slot - and in for Monahan's first of the season.

Backlund added to the lead in the third period, as his impressive 3M Line brought the puck up the ice after an extended shift of Anaheim pressure. His linemate, Michael Frolik, chipped the puck up to him, and a quick shot over John Gibson's shoulder gave the Flames a two-goal lead.

"It was nice relief," said Backlund, who has been a part of several losses in Anaheim since joining the Flames full time in 2010. "It was a huge win, great feeling. Smitty stood on his head for us all night and it wasn't pretty, we got it done.

"It's nice to finally break (the curse)."

Speaking of the 'curse,' the Flames actually got their own Jobu, and set up a shrine for the little voodoo doll in a locker, recreating the famous character from the movie Major League.  

"Jobu did make an appearance here tonight, so we were thinking about it a little bit," joked coach Glen Gulutzan post-game.

"We actually bought him in the summer, so we've been holding that card for a while, so that seemed to work. He got a nameplate, he had the gear, he had the little rum, he had the whole nine yards. We recreated the scene."

The Flames faced adversity early into the game, having to kill a 39-second five-on-three when Michael Stone went off for holding and, later, Sam Bennett for slashing. 

But before the second penalty could be killed, Corey Perry crosschecked Mark Giordano after the puck had been cleared. Travis Hamonic wasn't having any of it, and immediately came to his captain's defence. He dropped the gloves with Perry and took him down in a brief scrap.

"The penalty kill helped us," Gulutzan said. "The speciality teams obviously got us, and you can't win without speciality teams in this league, and I thought that was the difference, along with our goalie.

"He gives us confidence. And then just his puck play, and the saves he's making… Our team has a real sense of security there."

Tkachuk also continued establishing himself as the Flames' go-to pest, as he got into a small scrum with Ryan Getzlaf and goaded him into taking a roughing penalty. He also nearly scored in the third period to make it a 3-0 game, but the puck was just blocked at the goal-line by his stick.

ONE-TIMERS: Backlund is four goals away from 100. Giordano is one away …  Smith needs three more wins to reach 200.

NEXT UP: The Flames will be staying in Southern California, as they take on the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday (8:30 p.m. MTN). They will return to the Scotiabank Saddledome Friday to host the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. MTN) before hopping west to Vancouver to play the Canucks Saturday (8 p.m. MTN).

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