Five Takeaways from Toronto at Calgary Thursday December 16 at the Scotiabank Saddledome...
A full house. A full press box.
Must mean the Toronto Maple Leafs are making their western Canadian swing.
"When the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town there is a lot going on in your building," smiled Flames head coach Brent Sutter.
Sutter's team then went out and downed the Leafs 5-2 to win their second in a row for the first time since October 26.
The Flames broke open a 1-1 game in the second period with three goals in a span of 57 second to put the Leafs on their heels and quiet the many Toronto faithful on hand for the game.
Let's get the obvious out of the way early. It was Dion Phaneuf's return to Calgary for the first time since being traded to the Leafs last January. Much hype. Much buzz. Much booing of the Flames former first round pick who now the captain in Leafland. He was greeted with mild boos as he came out for the warm-up and, as expected, the boo birds hit him every time he touched the puck. Just as noticeable, however, was the Go-Leafs-Go chant among the sellout crowd of 19,289 -- at least until the Flames took control of the game.
Phaneuf, who scored his first goal of the season against Edmonton earlier this week, hasn't changed his game much since hitting Hogtown. He logs a lot of ice time in all situations. Is a talker on the ice and still possesses a big shot. And, like before, sometimes that shot is pretty errant.
Phaneuf had three shots on net, three shots blocked and five shots that missed the net in 22:29 minutes of play.
Late in the third period Phaneuf hauled down his former captain, Jarome Iginla, on a breakaway. Iginla was awarded a penalty shot but was stopped on his five-hole attempt by Jonas Gustavvson.
Jay Bouwmeester. The blueliner who probably helped make Dion Phaneuf expendable, jumped out of the gate Thursday and was in the play throughout the first period. In fact he cruised into the play from the blueline early in the game and hit the crossbar. Unfortunately, the Leafs went the other way and scored off a goalmouth scramble when Nikolai Kulemin put the puck past Miikka Kiprusoff.
The thing with Bouwmeester is that he skates so well that he was able to get back into the play and help defend after hitting the crossbar. When he gets active offensively he can be very effective. Think along the lines of a recently retired defenceman named Scott Niedermayer -- he jumped in and out of the offence a lot in New Jersey and Anaheim. Bouwmeester can do something similar in Calgary if given the green light.
Mikael Backlund notched his fourth goal of the season in the first period. Initially the goal was awarded to Ales Kotalik who appeared to tip Backlund's shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Not so, said Kotalik, who had the goal given to Backlund during the first intermission after telling officials that he had not touched the puck.
Nice gesture, especially coming from a guy like Kotalik who is looking for his first goal of the season after returning from a knee injury.
On another note the line of Kotalik, Backlund and Brendan Morrison looked solid. Technically, Morrison and Backlund can serve as setters for Kotalik, who loves to shoot the puck. Backlund had four shots on net and Kotalik had five shots.
No Curtis Glencross. Interestingly the energy forward was a healthy scratch. That made room for Matt Stajan, a healthy scratch the two previous games, to get back into the line-up. Stajan was placed on the top line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay to face his former team. He drew a penalty in the first period after splitting the Toronto defence and being hauled down as he shot.
Head coach Brent Sutter said he has met with Stajan a couple of times and has emphasized that he needs to play his game and not worry about who his linemates are.
"He has been given opportunities to play with different players, top end players. He had to concentrate on playing his game and not getting caught up in who he is playing with," said Sutter.
Stajan made a beautiful, behind-the-back pass to Alex Tanguay in the second to set-up Tanguay's ninth of the season and give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
"There was some excitement and emotion going into this game. Obviously you want to make an impact and play well after sitting for two games in a row," said Stajan following the game.
The former Leafs who came to Calgary in the Phaneuf trade actually looked pretty good against their former team. Stajan had an assist while Niklas Hagman had a goal and an assist.
Olli Jokinen. The guy has to get some credit on this night. He had a goal and two assists and worked his butt off all over the ice. One of his more impressive games of the season.
"We all played hard. Not only tonight but in the last three game we have been headed in the right direction," said Jokinen, who had a goal and an assist in that three goals in 57 seconds span in the second period.
"You have to be able to win at home if you want go anywhere," said Jokinen of the Flames winning two straight at home. "We have to match what visiting team are bringing."
Next up is Minnesota. They are likely to bring more than the Leafs, who managed just 19 shots on net.