Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smoldering Flames Reignite to Beat Capitals

The Calgary Flames, led by the fearless and fabulous Jerome Iginla, paid a rare visit to the Phone Booth in a Sunday afternoon game. The Flames, currently clawing for every point to claim a coveted spot in the Western Conference playoff race, were coming off an abominable 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins yesterday. Yesterday’s loss for the Flames saw the most points the Bruins have scored in a home game since December. Meanwhile, pint-sized powerhouse Mathieu Perrault saw a return to the NHL stage as Brooks Laich, Brendan Morrison and Scott Walker are still out with injuries. Shaone Morrisonn had four wisdom teeth removed so he was out of the action as well – ouch, good luck with that ShaMo, brings back bad memories (like when HM curled up in the middle of the dentist office floor while on anesthesia after having my own wisdom teeth removed in my twenties – totally embarrassing)!

Fresh from the sting of yesterday’s loss, the Flames were literally on fire in the opening stanza, bringing a hard-hitting game and chasing Jose Theodore back to the bench with three goals in the first period alone. The first goal occurred when Theo neglected to cover the puck, which was subsequently slipped through his five-hole by Flames winger Rene Bourque. In Theo's defense, the boys in front of him seemed to be napping for much of the early action. Mike Green went to the sin bin after closing his hand over the puck (the refs missed a Flames trip and borderline cross check on Alex Semin in the same timeframe) and the second Calgary goal came from Ian White on the power play. The third Flames tally was another one Theo should have had but was tipped in by former Florida Panther, Jay Bouwmeester. After that one, Gabby decided to give Theo a seat for the remainder of the afternoon and replaced him with Semyon Varlamov. Unfortunately, Varly also fell victim to the rekindled Flames, as he was screened in front and unable to stop a backhander from Niklas Hagman. Caps fans hadn’t seen such an ugly start from this Capitals club since I can’t remember when. Ugly, just plain ugly. End of the first period: Flames 4 – Capitals 0

The boys finally got on the board courtesy of Alex Ovechkin (who was recently voted by a panel of his peers as the NHL’s best player by a significant margin over that kid from Pittsburgh), who lit the lamp with a power play goal 3 minutes and 49 seconds into the second period. The Flames weren’t done lighting it up for their cause as Rene Bourque deked and dazzled a puck that went high in the crease, and despite Tom Poti’s frantic efforts, bounced down directly behind Varly’s backside. HM and my fellow brothers and sisters of Caps Nation were stunned to say the least - I certainly did not foresee the Caps down 5-1, especially from what I saw of Calgary against Boston yesterday. Eeeouch. David Steckel eased the pain by cutting the visitor’s lead to 3 when he scored right in front of Miikka Kiprusoff’s grill. End of the second period: Flames 5 – Capitals 2

The Caps got their first power play opportunity of the third with about 15 minutes left in the period. And boy did they take advantage of that one as fan fave Mathieu Perrault notched his third Caps goal and Alex Ovechkin reached the elite 100-point mark for the fourth time in five seasons with the assist! The boys in red took the momentum swing after that goal as they lead in scoring chances for much of the remaining period. Eric Berlanger had one of the best chances to late in the period but was stonewalled by Kiprusoff, who atoned for his sorry performance against the Bruins. Meanwhile, the rough and tumble Jerome Iginla took exception to a perfectly legal hit from Nick Backstrom and appeared to challenge Nick to a round. Apparently the young and obscenely talented Swede declined – smart decision based on Iggy’s fighting history. The late period surge in momentum didn’t happen soon enough and the Caps lost a rare one on home ice. Gabby will have lots to say to the boys about this one I’m sure. Final score: Flames 5 – Capitals 3

And on another bummer note, HM favorite David Booth  is out for the rest of the season with, yes, another concussion. I hope he’s able to get lots of rest and make a strong comeback when he returns.

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