CALGARY, AB -- Usually a night filled with game ejections, misconducts, fights and coaches screaming at each other would make one think the Calgary Flames were playing an archrival like the Edmonton Oilers but on Wednesday, it was a different competitor that drew the hometown's ire.
The Flames pulled out a 2-1 victory over the slumping Los Angeles Kings and to say it was an ugly affair would be an understatement.
The first period was as nasty as it gets with three game misconducts handed out and Dion Phaneuf was ejected from the game after an absolutely thunderous hit on Kings superstar Anze Kopitar.
The hit came just 2:33 into the game and really set the pace for the contest. With Kopitar racing into the negate an icing call, Phaneuf took the body instead of the puck and slammed the Slovianen forward into the glass with bone-crushing force. Kopitar had twisted awkwardly before he was hit and ended up getting his head smashed into the boards as he fell. It intially looked like Phaneuf would be handed a boarding call but he was given a game misconduct as Kopitar lay motionless on the ice.
Fans were not pleased when Kopitar took a shift just a couple minutes after the hit and he was relentlessly booed the rest of the night. Phaneuf was just relieved the forward was alright after the play and told the media he was just finishing off his check.
"It was a foot race to a puck and the icing was waved off. He leaned on me and I leaned on him. You don't want to see guys get hurt. It was good to see him come back and play."
Rene Bourque opened the scoring late at 6:21 of the first stanza after a beautiful pass from Jay Bouwmeester
. After beating Drew Doughty in the Kings zone, Bouwmeester slipped the puck over to a streaking Bourque who tapped it over Erik Ersberg's shoulder. It was his 14th marker of the season and his fourth tally in two contests.
"That first goal tonight, Bo, he was just flying down the wing there and he made a great pass. I just had to get my stick on it," Bourque said, shrugging off any praise thrown his way by the media.
Scott Parse tied the game up just 15 seconds into the second period with a quick wrister that beat Miikka Kiprusoff
stick side. The draw would be broken, however, by an unlikely source.
Craig Conroy has had real issues finding the back of the net this season, going o-fer in his 36 prior games this season, so no one expected him to be the one to score the game-winner. It wasn't his prettiest as he simply batted the puck into an open net as the Kings scrambled but he'll gladly take it.
"I said any way would be good to get it going," he chuckled. "Just get some confidence and then kinda roll forward.
"Just to get one and get rolling, especially before the new year, was nice to do. Especially against my old team."
The fans in the Saddledome let loose a roar that is usually reserved for playoff goals and even gave the veteran a standing ovation when the goal was announced. Conroy couldn't stop raving about them afterwards.
"The fans, that was pretty special. They were feeling it for me, they were feeling bad with me," he said with a huge grin. "I love the fans, that was nice of them. That was great. I looked up ... I really appreciate it. When you go as long as that, the fans could be booing you but they're great here and that's why I love it."
The Flames finish off 2009 with another round of the Battle of Alberta. Game time is 7:00 p.m. MST on Sportsnet West & The FAN 960.
|WHY CALGARY WON |
|The Flames came out flying and that physical presence they established in the first few minutes lead the way the rest of the game. They were relentless on the Kings, checking them every chance they got, and were able to create enough pressure off the forecheck to produce enough offense to get the win. Head's up plays like Bouwmeester's on the Flames first goal showed they were playing not only a physical game but a smart game as well. |
|GAME NOTES |
|D Staffan Kronwall and F Brian McGrattan were healthy scratches. D Cory Sarich remains out with a lower body injury. He has been skating since Dec. 29th but there is no projected date to return to the lineup ... this was the first of three games in four nights for the boys in red ... this was the final meeting between the two teams. The Flames took the season series 3-1. |
|THE NUMBERS GAME |
|Phaneuf played a grand total of 2:33 (2 shifts) before he was handed a game misconduct for his hit on Kopitar ... Bourque has 4 goals in 2 games ... Conroy has 10 points on the year and needs 7 goals for 100 with the Flames ... there were 3 10:00 misconducts dealt out in the first period. Ivanans, Richardson and Glencross were benched for 10:00 ... the Flames have scored first in 27 of 38 games ... 27:24 of ice time for Bouwmeester ... 5 shots on net for David Moss ... the Kings have lost 9 straight in the Saddledome. |
|"Everyone's been feeling sorry for the old guy so it was nice to get one empty-netter. It felt like an eternity to see it go in." - Conroy on his second period goal. |
"It got everybody into the game early. The crowd got into. I think the call was questionable. If anything it should have been icing if the ref would have called it. But I don't think it was a penalty on Dion." - Bourque on Phaneuf's hit.
"I'll always protect my players." - Head coach Brent Sutter on his shouting match with Terry Murray in the first period
|HARDEST WORKING FLAMES |