Special Teams Make the Difference
The two MVP candidates faced each other in a rare meeting in Washington. The early game pitted Jarome Iginla against league the goal leader in the NHL Alex Ovechkin. Calgary sought to being their four game road-trip out east with a bang, but it must have been the early start because it was the SAME OLD START!
Not before one minute had expired in the opening frame–just two shifts in–Calgary gave up a regular strength goal. The usual start for the ‘ever-other-game’ Flames. Lucky for the Flames the Caps were slow on maintaining momentum.
Calgary re-took some of the on-ice play with a pressing forecheck but didn’t really create any dangerous scoring chances. The forth line has been playing a semi-regular shift since Nilson joined the line in place of Smith. At the tail-end of the first Boyd took a big hit along the boards and Godard respond in kind. Erskine then came and challenged Godard and the two dropped the gloves. Erskine started strong but was caught by two hard punches from Godard–he did not return to the game after the fight.
Late in the first Calgary took a 5v3 advantage and put their PP to the test. A chance to get back into the game, but then again, the Flames haven’t been stellar on the PP. The usual suspects started on the main PP with Iginla and Phaneuf on the points. After some nervous passing it was Iginla who hit the inside of the net off a pretty one timer. Calgary went into the first intermission tied 1-1 in a largely successful first period, less the usual slow start.
The teams traded second period goals on the PP with Huselius and Ovechkin capitalising. The same suspects were in the box for Calgary, namely the fastest player Lombardi and Phaneuf (although he only got one this game!)
The third period saw some close action with Kiprusoff closing the door. Calgary mustered zero offence and struggled to even make it to the slot. Owen Nolan was careless with his stick with only 3 and a half minutes left in the third. Ovechkin capitalized with a point shot that alluded a screen Kiprusoff.
Calgary, supposedly one of the top teams in the Western Division, may even be out of the playoff picture when they return home. That’s certainly a possibility especially when the team can’t beat Eastern division teams who aren’t in a playoff position. The Capitals on the other hand are a one player team. Calgary was that for years and never made the playoffs. The team could use some upgrading all around but showed hints of dominance, and hey, they have Ovechkin so anything is possible.