Flames' first goal finally met

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

All together now, Calgary … exhale.

On the heels of a humiliating season-opener in Edmonton that the Calgary Flames stewed about all weekend, it shouldn’t have been surprising the Saddledome opener kicked off with more hostility than hoorays.

It started with a curtain malfunction that tainted the opening introductions and worsened when Adam Pardy and Rene Bourque left with injuries minutes into the tilt.

As the team’s season-opening scoreless streak stretched well into its fourth period, boos started raining down on the club’s top trio, as it struggled through yet another punchless powerplay.

With all the goodwill and momentum of a perfect preseason eradicated in Edmonton and a distant memory at the Dome, things were getting downright stuffy in what is supposed to be the Flames’ cozy confines.

If the newly minted Scotiabank Saddledome is heretofore known as The Bank, it’s safe to say some of the more fickle fans were already thinking about cashing out.

And then … it happened.

Midway through another period of discontent, fourth-line utility man Brett Sutter made a brilliant pass to spring fellow penalty-killer Curtis Glencross in alone.

Just as it looked like No. 20

was running out of room to catch the puck, he cut across from the left side of the net and stuffed the puck past Kings goalkeeper Jonathan Bernier.

Tough to remember the last time a Game 2 goal caused as much relief.

Not only did the team need it, but the city needed it.

“I think it was tense ,and you could tell because the Dome was quiet,” said Flames veteran Craig Conroy of the scene minutes before Glencross changed everything.

“Obviously, the way we started in Edmonton and then that first period … wow. But when Glennie scored, the place erupted, and it felt great. Especially for me — I was the one sitting in the (penalty) box. As good as Glennie felt when he scored, I felt better.”

With Conroy adding another goal in the third period to pace the lads to a 3-1 win over a highly-touted Kings club, Flames fans finally got a chance to feel better about the upcoming season, too, which is important given how much the future of this club seems to be riding on this year.

Although it didn’t look good early, the club found a way to make like the pre-game scoreboard curtain and refused to unravel.

Thing is, the club’s first momentum-turning goal of the season — heck, its first goal, period — almost never happened as Glencross didn’t gain control of the puck until he was perilously close to the goal-line.

“I was definitely thinking

I was running out of real estate — I had to put an extra reach on it, but any later and I didn’t think I would’ve had it,” Glencross said.

“That’s huge for us.”

Did he, too, sense the hostility preceding his goal?

“Definitely,” said Glencross, a third-line winger, who many see as having 20-goal potential if he can play more consistently.

“You’ve got to get the bandwagon going.”

Consider it done.

And so goes the first of many violent mood swings Flames faithful will undergo this season, and it all started with the Glencross marker.

“That’s a huge goal — a shorthanded goal, and it gives you a lead,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter.

“And we had a short bench too. Big goal.”

Big win.

Breathe Calgary. Breathe.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis


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