There are a few games every season that seem to have more importance than others. Sometimes it’s opening night. Sometimes it’s the last game of the regular season. Sometimes it’s the game following a blowout loss. This season the first home game after a dismal 7-game road trip seems to fit into the category of “important game”.
The Calgary Flames delighted their fans and gave themselves a little breathing room atop the NW division with a 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars tonight. Eric Nystrom was the game’s hero and beneficiary of Dustin Boyd’s stretch play to keep the puck onside in Dallas’ end. Nystrom took Boyd’s pass and coolly shot the puck between Marty Turco’s pads to give the Flames their 2nd goal of the game and their 88th point of the season.
The entire team can be thanked for tonight’s victory, as it was truly a team win. The Flames “depth” players provided the offense tonight and everyone contributed in their own end. The Flames played much tighter defense and gave up fewer scoring chances – they only allowed a total of 19 shots against, allowing Miikka Kiprusoff to have a little rest as he tallied his 200th career win.
In fact, were it not for a 2nd period powerplay with about 10 shots, the Flames may have actually kept the Stars to fewer than 10 shots on goal all game. The Stars had 4 shots in the first period, 12 in the second and 3 in the third.
The win gives the Flames some breathing room in the race for 1st place in the NW division. Before their 7-game road trip, the Flames enjoyed an 11-point lead over the Vancouver Canucks. After beating Dallas last night, the Canucks had squeezed that lead to only 3 points. Tonight’s win gives the Flames a 5-point lead over the 2nd place Canucks. More importantly, the game gives a little buffer back, right as the Canucsk head out on their own 6-game road trip.