DOMINATION AT THE DOME
Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk celebrates his second-period goal in the Flames’ 7-1 win, the team’s fifth straight, over the Arizona Coyotes at the saddledome on Sunday.
I worked out later, and my arm got really swollen and kind of purple-y. So we went the next morning, and that’s when they found the clot.
What’s the opposite of winning ugly?
Whatever you call it, this was it. After stringing together several victories without their best stuff, the Calgary Flames proved Sunday they were listening to those warnings from their head coach, delivering a much more complete effort in a 7-1 rout of the Arizona Coyotes at the Saddledome.
The Western Conference-leading Flames have now won five in a row and own a superb 8-1-1 mark in their past 10 dates.
“We’re concerned about our team game and starting on time,” stressed bench boss Bill Peters after Sunday’s morning skate. “That will be a big focus.”
Peters’ posse was apparently listening.
On this night, their start was much better.
It was past the midway mark of the opening stanza before the Flames allowed the Coyotes to even muster a shot on net. By the first intermission, the hosts were up 2-0.
Forget winning ugly. They were en route to winning big.
Mark Giordano and Matthew Tkachuk each potted a pair Sunday for the Flames, while Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau connected on a couple of others.
Each one of those guys also enjoyed multi-point outings against the Coyotes, joined in that club by Mikael Backlund, TJ Brodie and Michael Frolik.
It was also a memorable evening for Flames call-up Andrew Mangiapane, who helped the locals claim an early lead with his first career counting at the bigleague level.
After sweating through 18 NHL appearances without a single point, the 22-year-old left-winger forced the Coyotes to cough up the puck in the neutral zone and raced into enemy territory to start a double drop-pass — Mangiapane to linemate Derek Ryan, then Ryan to Giordano. The captain handled the rest, ripping a short-side shot for the opening strike.
Just 68 seconds later, the Flames doubled their lead thanks to a familiar combination, Gaudreau with the setup, Monahan with the snipe.
Gaudreau had moments earlier tried to force a pass through to his BFF on a three-on-two rush and with suggestions of “Shoooooot!” still echoing in the Saddledome, he set up shop behind the net and teed up Monahan for a one-timer from the doorstep.
After Tkachuk padded the cushion, the Flames’ dynamic duo switched roles. For their next lamp-lighting, Monahan retrieved a rebound at the edge of the crease and passed through the blue paint to Gaudreau for a gimme.
The visitors put some ink on the scoresheet late in the second, but the Flames really turned Sunday’s clash into a landslide in the final frame.
Tkachuk scored his second of the night on a redirect, Giordano cranked a slapper just inside the post and Sam Bennett continued to add to the misery for Calgaryraised Coyotes netminder Adin Hill, a graduate of the MidgetAAA Buffaloes and the AJHL’s Canucks.
Now relegated to backup duties after an all-star nod last winter, Mike Smith was sharp in a 22-save showing in the home crease. He was fooled only by Jordan Oesterle, who tallied through traffic on the power play.
The Flames are back in action Wednesday, when they welcome Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and the Buffalo Sabres to the Saddledome (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet One/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
STONE DEALING WITH BLOOD CLOT
The initial symptoms seemed innocent enough.
“I woke up that morning feeling not-so-good, almost like I slept funny on my arm,” recalled Calgary Flames defenceman Michael Stone. “We did the pre-game skate, and I could hardly shoot. I mean, it hurt, but nothing that was a big red flag or anything like that. But I worked out later, and my arm got really swollen and kind of purple-y.
“So we went the next morning, and that’s when they found the clot.”
That was back in late November, and Stone has been sidelined by that blood clot since.
On Sunday, with his former team — the Arizona Coyotes — in town to clash with his current crew, the 28-year-old rearguard missed his 25th consecutive contest on injured reserve.
“It’s been hard, especially to have it in the middle of the season,” Stone said. “For the first little bit, I didn’t feel normal. But now, I’ve been feeling normal for quite a while.
“So it’s been difficult. But what has helped is at least I can skate. If I wasn’t skating and I was just sitting around, I think that would have been worse.”
There is still no timetable for Stone’s return to action or even to practise with his pals.
Because he is still on bloodthinners, he simply can’t risk being clipped by a stick or a puck or anything else that might open him up.
Stone is slated for another checkup this week. As he summed up, “It’s a waiting game for me, it really is.”
Until that blood clot is gone, he’ll be skating separately with Juuso Valimaki — the rookie is recovering from a high-ankle sprain — and watching his Pacific Division-leading team from either the press box at the Saddledome or from the comfort of his couch when they’re on the road.
“Hopefully, I come back and I can contribute and be a part of it,” Stone said. “Hopefully the work that I’ve put in skating-wise and skills-wise and stuff like that, you can see some of the benefits of it. That’s the goal.
“Hopefully, at the end of the day, it works out.”
AROUND THE BOARDS
It was another milestone night for Calgary’s captain, as Giordano hit the 800-game plateau in Sunday’s date with the Desert Dogs. The 35-year-old is one of just four players to log that many appearances in the Flaming C — fellow defencemen Al MacInnis (803 GP) and Robyn Regehr (826 GP) and iconic right-winger Jarome Iginla (1,219 GP) are the others. “I just try not to take it for granted,” Giordano said after Sunday’s morning skate. “I want to play for a long time still. I have a lot of years left, in my mind, and I want to keep playing, keep staying fresh” … Flames defenceman Travis Hamonic was a surprise scratch against the Coyotes due to a family illness … Down on the farm, Stockton Heat winger Buddy Robinson has stretched his personal points spree to 10 straight games. The 27-year-old Robinson, a longtime friend and former high school teammate of Flames all-star Johnny Gaudreau, was called up to the Calgary squad shortly before the Christmas break but didn’t get in the lineup.
Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith extends the blocker to redirect a shot by Arizona Coyotes forward Richard Panik out of harm’s way, one of 22 saves Smith made in a 7-1 victory over his former team during Sunday night’s game at the Scotiabank Saddledome.