Kicking out 21 of 22 shots from the Los Angeles Kings, Karri Ramo was key in helping the Calgary Flames to a victory at Staples Center in the finale of the Father’s Trip.
Ramo, making his first start since Nov. 8th, was named the game’s first star.
“Part of the reason he played so well is the reason he works every day,” coach Bob Hartley said. “He didn’t play for quite a while and watching this guy in practice, watching him in the gym, I knew that he would be ready and he deserves big credit because that was not easy, that’s not an easy place to play. He gave us a big win.”
His start came into question at the morning skate.
On the final shot of practice, Ramo was struck in the knee by a shot from Christopher Breen, immediately forcing him off the ice.
“It’s just a bruise on the knee,” Ramo said. “It was actually the last shot of the practice, so a bit of bad luck there. The medical staff did a really good job to get it out and make sure it didn’t bother.
“I knew it hit the nerve so it gave a lot of pain but as soon as I was off the ice, I felt better right away. I got the feeling back in the leg. It was pretty clear right away that it was a bruise and nothing was broke.”
He quickly went from questionable to remarkable.
“Maybe that’s a new strategy that we’re going to start before every game,” Hartley said, “But one thing, he played an outstanding game for us.”
Paul Byron, in his first game with the Flames this season, also played a key role in helping the Flames to their second win at Staples Center this season.
Killing a five-minute major assessed to Ladislav Smid, Byron raced to scoop up a puck in the Kings zone after Los Angeles goaltender Ben Scrivens tripped when playing the puck. Byron corralled the loose puck and fed Blair Jones, who made no mistake in finding the empty net.
“I just jumped on the ice for a change, saw that he had slipped,” Byron said. “I just tried to put pressure on him and seize the opportunity. I saw Jonesy out of the corner of my eye and just slid it over to him and he put it in the back of the net.”
The goal was Jones’ second in four games since being recalled from the Abbotsford Heat.
“I’ve been playing with him for a while now down in Abbotsford,” Byron said. “He’s been setting me up. I set him up. It’s just the way hockey works. I’m sure he’ll return the favour.”
Hartley has preached playing bigger than what’s listed on paper.
The Flames delivered against one of the most physical teams in the league in the Kings.
“We had great pushback but at the same time we were disciplined,” he said. “They’re a big physical team. On paper, we’re not the biggest team but tonight we played much bigger than our real size.”
Mike Cammalleri’s goal with 23 seconds remaining helped Hartley stress his point that if Calgary can continue their physical play, rewards will follow.
“Lots of times since the start of the year, we could’ve had good rewards and whether a little bit of bad luck or sometimes bad decisions, we lost some big points even though I felt we had worked a good game,” he said. “Tonight to come back and Cammy gave us that big winning goal late in the game, that’s a huge reward. That’s a feel-good game for the boys.”
ONE FOR THE DADS
The Flames Father’s Trip wrapped up on a winning note in Los Angeles thanks to Cammalleri’s late-game heroics.
The scorer wasn’t sure if he or his dad was happier with the outcome.
“I think we’re both pretty excited,” he said. “It’s one of those things. You go through life and you have certain moments that are pretty special and for all of us, it’s a special weekend.”
Hartley called the game a reward for fathers and sons.
“This is such a great reward for both sides,” Hartley said. “Our players, they’re kids and to play in front of the dads, I think the dads feel real good about them and for our players, it’s a way to say ‘Thank You’ to the dads.
“From three, four, five years old, driving all around Canada, US or the world at six, seven o’clock on Saturday morning in freezing temperatures, you need commitment. To give them a win, tomorrow we have a day off so it’s going to be a fun day for everyone.”
“Wins haven’t been as frequent as we would like. For us, it’s nice to get the win and it adds to it when you have the respect you do for the opponent and you understand that those are the kinds of games they’re comfortable playing in and we’re a young team whose learning how to win in those situations.”
The Flames return to Calgary to welcome the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday (8 p.m. MT, SNET-W) before hosting the Colorado Avalanche (7 p.m. MT, SNET-W).