One day after storming through Philadelphia with their new additions – Jordan Leopold and Olli Jokinen – the Calgary Flames showed that they are still mortal by losing to the Hurricanes 6-1 in Carolina.
The Hurricanes were lead by Ray Whitney’s 3 powerplay goals and never looked back after banking 3 goals in the final 5 minutes of the first period. Buoyed by the return of Erik Cole, they notched 3 goals in the first period, 2 in the second period and one in the third period to put themselves ahead 6-0.
Carolina played a stingy defensive game and were helped by their hot-and-cold goalie, Cam Ward, who was definitely hot tonight. Ward had his shutout streak broken by Jarome Iginla with less than 4 minutes left in the game when the Flames captain muscled past Tim Gleason and put a low, hard shot into the Carolina net.
The Flames are in the middle of a 7-game roadtrip and definitely showed signs of mental and physical fatigue after last night’s game in Philly. They were sloppy with the puck and had trouble getting their offense going consistently. With the exception of a few great shifts (that produced some great scoring chances) the Flames generally played like a team that should be fighting for a playoff spot, and not fighting for one of the best records in the NHL.
The Flames didn’t receive any help from the referees in tonight’s game, which included my all-time favourite Kerry Fraser (can you feel the sarcasm dripping off this sentence?!!). Fraser always seems to be there during games where all the marginal calls are made against the Flames, and it’s so one-sided that even the opponents’ commentators start to talk about it.
The Flames were called with the first 6 penalties in the game, and Carolina capitalized on 2 of them. The one-sided penalty situation didn’t change until the 3rd period when the fighting started. Eric Nystrom dropped the gloves in defence of a teammate after Dennis Seidenberg thought it would be a good idea to take a run at rookie Warren Peters two minutes into the 3rd period. Normally I wouldn’t have any problem with Seidenberg’s hit. It was relatively clean and within the rules of the game, but it was 100% unnecessary. The score was already 5-0, and Seidenberg decided to make a center-ice run at Peters, who was playing in his 2nd NHL game. Peters was already battling with another ‘canes player along the boards and if he hadn’t seen Seidenberg at the last second Peters would have been a candidate for “concussion of the week.” All Seidenberg’s hit did was bring out the rough side of the Flames.
The Hurricanes tried to entice a few different Flames players – including Jarome Iginla – into fighting, but nobody else took them up until Jim Vandermeer fought Tim Conboy halfway through the 3rd period after he laid a big hit on one of Conboy’s teammates.
The Flames will now have one day to rest before playing in Atlanta on Sunday. They will play 4 games in 7 days to complete their season-high 7-game road trip.