Victories can sure mask the pain.
That was the case for defenceman Cory Sarich and the rest of the Flames after they gutted out Saturday night’s 4-3 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Even after going through some treatment from the medical staff, Sarich had ice packs on both feet, a byproduct of blocking shots, as he walked to the back room to ready for the return home.
“Just part of it,” shrugged the blueliner, whose feet are black and blue with bruises.
Part of life in the NHL, yes.
A bigger part of winning, which the Flames must do when they are back in action Monday against the Nashville Predators.
The Flames are still 14th in the Western Conference, five points back of eighth spot, but they showed something by winning games over the Canucks and the Dallas Stars — a pair of divisional leaders — on successive nights: Grit.
Want some examples?
They’ll come from all levels of players in the Vancouver outing.
n Captain Jarome Iginla had just one assist, but he dished out five hits in the first period alone, including a solid crusher on Keith Ballard, to set a tone as a leader. The entire Canucks lineup had four.
n Defenceman Robyn Regehr (6:23), Jay Bouwmeester (5:03) and Sarich (4:46) were stalwarts killing penalties. Curtis Glencross also put in five minutes of PK time.
n Tom Kostopoulos didn’t just send Kevin Bieksa to the showers on just one punch in a first-period fight, he also forechecked like a demon.
n Tim Jackman not only did the usual heavy lifting which is making him a fan fave, but he showed a deft touch in feeding Brendan Morrison for a powerplay goal. Jackman had the presence to patiently make a short pass and set a screen like a basketball post player instead of flailing at the rebound.
n Speaking of Morrison, he had his best game as a Flame, in all areas.
Even players not known for their grit showed moxie.
Matt Stajan created a goal by battling with two players before slipping a perfect pass to Glencross for his tally, while Alex Tanguay’s game went far beyond being the shootout hero.
They were both just as noticeable for strong defensive play and winning puck battles.
“We’ll take it as progress,” Sarich said.
“Something we’ve been striving for is consistency. It’s showing up a little bit in our game. Not a great one against Minnesota (the 6-0 loss last week), but to hell with that one. These two were enjoyable.”