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The Five Takeaways: Flames vs. Thrashers

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
ATLANTA, GA -- The Calgary Flames went into Georgia without a single win in Atlanta. They left with their first victory in Phillips Arena and their sixth straight win.


Mark Giordano was the lone goal-scorer in the first frame, notching his fifth of the season at the exact second Evander Kane's double-minor for high-sticking expired. The goal ended a 14-game scoring drought for the blueliner and pushed him to within four points of his career high 30 from last season.

The middle stanza saw three goals scored, evening up the game after 40 minutes of play. Bryan Little and Anthony Stewart gave the Thrashers their first two tallies of the game while Brendan Morrison scored for the Flames.

The third period saw both teams playing very carefully, keeping most of the play in the neutral zone, but the Flames were able to score the go-ahead goal thanks to a gritty shift from an odd line: Jarome Iginla, Mikael Backlund and Tom Kostopoulos. The captain dug the puck out from behind the net, dished it off to Backlund and the Swede swatted it towards the net. It bounced off Ron Hainsey and into the net.

Curtis Glencross added an empty netter for the Flames fourth goal.

TAKEAWAY ONE: Capitalizing early

The Flames went into Atlanta knowing they wouldn't have as much jump as their well-rested opponents and knew they had to keep their game very simplistic if they hoped to leave Georgia with two points. Part of a playing a basic road game is being able to capitalize on the chances given to you by the other team and the Flames were able to do that early in the first period.

Youngster Kane went in hard behind the Flames net with Cory Sarich right on his heels. As the two battled for the puck, Kane got a little too aggressive and decked Sarich in the face his stick. The referee's handed him a 4:00 double minor on the play, giving Calgary a golden opportunity.

Taking a pass from Olli Jokinen, Robyn Regehr faked a shot at the blueline and drew several players toward him. He made a slap pass over to Giordano. The Toronto native took a few strides toward the net before wiring a hard wrist shot past Ondrej Pavelec. He scored just as the Kane penalty expired, technically making it an even strength goal, but the hard work with the man advantage created that offensive production.

TAKEAWAY TWO: A new face on the wing

With Niklas Hagman sitting out due to an injury sustained in the Flames tilt with the Nashville Predators, Calgary needed another body on the wing. Lance Bouma was called up from the Abbotsford Heat but due to winter storms throughout the United States, he was unable to get to Atlanta in time.

The coaching staff opted to let veteran Steve Staios fill in up front. The newly minted winger was used very sparingly, splitting his ice time between the third and fourth lines. Staios kept his minimal ice time very simple by clearing out lanes for his linemates and backchecking. He did not register a shot.

Overall, he had 4:01 of ice time and two hits in the win.

TAKEAWAY THREE: Heating up

Given their struggles with consistent offence, the Flames depend greatly upon certain members of their defence corps to put up points for them. Giordano is one of those blueliners looked to in this regard but he's been mired in a scoring slump over the last couple of months.

He was able to burst out of that slump in style on Thursday night when he potted a goal and an assist. It marked his first goal in 14 games and his first multi-point game since Dec. 10, a span of 22 games.

Morrison continued his hot streak with his ninth goal of the season. The pivot now has points in five straight games with three tallies and two helpers.

TAKEAWAY FOUR: Hit parade

Given these two teams rarely meet, the amount of animosity between the two was high. The two clubs threw 37 hits in 60 minutes, with the Thrashers holding the edge with 21 over the Flames 16.

As usual, Sarich was in the thick of things when it came to the physical side of the game. Early in the game, he laid a hard check on Kane as the forward tried to make his way into the Flames zone along the half-wall. Kane tumbled to ice as a result of teeth-rattling hit, setting the pace for the rest of the contest.

The Thrashers gave as good as they got. In one sequence, Dustin Byfuglien slammed Alex Tanguay into corner, sending the winger hard to the ice. Once Tanguay got his footing, Byfuglien shoved him back down as he skated away, drawing a crowd of disgruntled teammates intent on sticking up for their respective teams.

TAKEAWAY FIVE: First win in Georgia

It was the Flames seventh visit to Atlanta since the franchise came into exsistence and until Friday, Calgary didn't have a single victory at the Phillips Arena. Prior to their 4-2 win, the closest they came to success was a 3-3 tie on Mar. 11, 2001.

"Brutal," was Robyn Regehr's pre-game assessment of the Flames winless streak in Atlanta. "We're due."

After they broke the streak, it was all smiles around the Flames locker room.

"It feels really good, definitely," Backlund told Sportsnet West. "It's just a postive attitude in there."
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