The Calgary Flames never led in Minnesota. They allowed the first goal. They trailed or were tied for the entire run-time of the game. But they managed to escape Xcel Energy Center with two points via a 5-4 shootout win.
This group seems to insist on doing things the hard way.
Interim head coach Geoff Ward noted that the tight-checking nature of the game is probably what the Flames can expect from here on out:
This is the way it’s going to be now. When you’re playing teams that are playoff teams, experienced teams, the know exactly what they need to do in order to manage games. And for our group it’s a real good learning lesson and we’ll move on. There’s some things we can take out of it, for sure, and there are some areas definitely we have to pay more attention to in order to play a cleaner, more effective game ourselves.
Ward mentioned the team’s breakouts from their own zone as something that needs to be tidied up.
The Flames allowed the first goal for the 27th time this season. They trailed after one period for the 17th time and after two periods for the 24th time. They still managed to win, but by now it’s been hammered home that chasing all game isn’t a recipe for sustainable success.
Calgary’s power play out-scored Minnesota’s by a 2-1 margin, making up for the Wild out-scoring them 3-2 at even strength. Special teams are supposed to be difference-makers, but the Flames have got to be hoping to get more than a pair of five-on-five goals per game.
A milestone evening for David Rittich
The man everyone calls Big Save Dave had a pretty interesting game. Playing in his 100th NHL game, he wasn’t great early but he stood on his head in the later stages of the game to pick up his 53rd win as a Flames netminder.
He’s just the 13th Flames goalie to play 100 games for the franchise. He’s just the ninth Flames goalie to win 53 games, tying him with veteran backup (and Stanley Cup winner) Rick Wamsley for eighth spot on the franchise leaderboard. Goalies with more wins than Rittich include (in ascending order): Roman Turek, Trevor Kidd, Phil Myre, Reggie Lemelin, Dan Bouchard, Mike Vernon and Miikka Kiprusoff.
Not bad company to be keeping, especially for a guy that Flames scout Derek MacKinnon found by accident in the Czech Republic.