Calgary Flames goaltender Danny Taylor has his first NHL win, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Plymouth, UK-born goaltender stopped 29 shots to help the Flames beat the Canucks 4-2, and in doing so, becomes only the 3rd UK-born goaltender to win an NHL game.
Taylor had a lot of help from his skaters tonight. Mike Cammalleri scored two goals, including the Flames’ 4th, into an empty net. Lee Stempniak (do people really call him “snipe-niak”?) scored to tie it at 2-2 before the end of the 3rd, and Jarome Iginla added the game-winner at 12:36 of the 3rd period.
The Flames D-men were also a major help towards Danny boy’s first NHL win. The Canucks seemed to be playing their usual “shoot from the side boards, and hope for a far-side rebound to stuff in” game, and there were a lot of loose pucks in front of the net as a result. But Calgary helped out their rookie goaltender by clearing the puck almost every time. The rest of those times, Danny was the man.
The Canucks had goals from Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen, who was probably pretty stoked that the Canuck’s plane couldn’t make it to Calgary last night. Hansen’s wife gave birth to twin boys early this morning. As a father of 7.5 month-old twin boys myself, I tip my hat to him. He may play for the wrong team and have a bigger bank account than I do (read: can buy some help), but he’s got a shit-load of work ahead of him in the next little bit. Trust me. Twin baby boys take up a lot of time, but are they ever awesome.
The big stories (or non-stories, maybe) of the game were 1) the fact that a winter storm kept the Canucks from getting to Calgary until the last minute, and 2) Brian McGrattan’s Jagr-esque salute to the fans after his fight with Tom Sestito. Before we dive into the salute, it should also be noted that transplanted Canucks fans haven’t figured out real Canadian winter driving yet. Right up until the the end of the first period, I noticed fans in Canucks jerseys arriving at the game and taking their seats. Better late than never, I guess.
Now the salute. Brian McGrattan had a good return to the Flames. He’s been very vocal about being happy to return to Calgary, and had a fight and two good hits tonight. McGrattan had been looking to go with Sestito all game, and after Stempniak’s tying goal, they dropped the gloves. It was a good fight, and I’d give McGrattan the win because he landed more good punches, but more importantly, he fired up the C of Red and made the fans a factor in the game for the rest of the night. As he was skating to the penalty box, he saluted the fans in the same manner that Jagr does after a goal. Apparently he’s no Jagr, though, because he was assessed a 10 minute misconduct for it.
But it was definitely worth it. McGrattan’s fight raised the volume of the crowd by about 2 notches. It also cemented the momentum in the Flames favour and reduced the likelihood of a buzzkill goal 30 seconds later by one of the Sedin sisters.
I would be a slacker if I didn’t mention the awesome play of Jiri Hudler tonight. He had 2 assists (on Cammalleri’s first goal and Iggy’s game-winner) and was named the first star of the game. As is usually the case, he was shifty with the puck, and seemed to be the secret sauce that screwed-up the Canucks’ zone defence. You see, Hudler doesn’t play like the rest of the Flames. He actually keeps possession of the puck and skates with it instead of dumping it to where the opponents are waiting. That is something that made a big difference in tonight’s game, and I hope the rest of the Flames team continues to learn from it.
Calgary’s next game is on Wednesday, at home versus the San Jose Sharks. Not only are they a mere 4 points out of a playoff spot, the Flames are also 4 points away from 4th spot in the West. It’s pretty jammed up in there, so it’s time to string some wins together.