Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat had a good battle, but it was Martin Havlat who had the last word. And it was a noisy last word.
After taking a hi-stick (that was really more of a punch in the face) from Cammalleri, Havlat scored a late 3rd period goal to tie the game and eventually scored the game winner 12 seconds into overtime to stun the Calgary Flames in game one of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.
Cammalleri and Havlat started chirping off at each other early in the game and continued to battle throughout the first and second periods. Cammalleri appeared to get the upper edge of the feud when he scored the go-ahead goal for the flames early in the 3rd. The goal came 1 minute after he stepped out of the penalty box after serving his 2 minutes for hi-sticking Havlat. While breaking in on a 2-on-1, Cammalleri took a nice pass from Daymond Langkow and shot the puck over a sprawling Nikolai Khabibulin to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
The game was Chicago’s first playoff game in 7 years, and their lack of playoff experience showed during the first period, when the Flames dominated the play and outshot their opponents 10-5. The Flames finished the first 20 minutes with a 1-0 load thanks to David Moss’ goal 8:38 into the period.
Chicago’s Cam Barker tied the game at 13:17 of the 2nd period and that goal seemed to give the Blackhawks some confidence. The shots on net in the 2nd period were more equal, with the Flames having a 11-10 advantage.
As the Blackhawks’ young players gained confidence, it was their young captain, Jonathan Toews who really broke out and showed his leadership ability. He won 71.4% of the faceoffs he took in the game and assisted on Cam Barker’s goal in the 2nd period. He was all over the ice and seemed to always be at the right place at the right time. He showed patience and did not seem to mind the physical style of play that the Flames brought to the ice.
Unfortunately for the Flames, the worst player in their system has returned, and his presence in the game was felt. Anders Eriksson returned to the Flames line-up after spending the entire season playing in the AHL where he belongs, and was the only player on the Flames roster who was on the ice for both of Chicago’s 2 regulation goals. Not only was he on the ice, but it was his weak play that lead to both goals. Cam Barker can thank Eriksson for screening Miikka Kiprusoff on Chicago’s first goal of the game. Instead of going down to block the shot, Eriksson turned his body sideways and let the puck through. Miikka Kiprusoff had no chance on the shot. Martin Havlat can also thank Eriksson for weakly attempting to play the puck out of his own zone, only to give it to Havlat right in the slot.
I have never hiden my hate of Eriksson as a player, and I thought that we were rid of him for good this season. But injuries to the Calgary blueliners forced the Darryl Sutter to recall him from Quad Cities of the AHL and put a Flames jersey back on him.
Oh, if only some team had claimed him off waivers, then we could be rid of his ridiculous $1.5M salary cap hit and his weak play. But alas, no other team is that stupid, so Flames fans will have to grit our teeth and bear it while he’s on the ice for a little while longer. Eriksson is a UFA after this season, so we can bid him a farewell soon, but in the meantime, pray for the return of either Cory Sarich or Robyn Regehr so we can scratch him from the line-up.