SUN Hockey Pool

Calgary Flames making unexpected history

The New Jersey Devils' Bryce Salvadore is taken into the boards by Calgary Flames tough-guy Brian...

The New Jersey Devils' Bryce Salvadore is taken into the boards by Calgary Flames tough-guy Brian McGrattan Friday night at the Saddledome.

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:02 AM ET

This cast of Calgary Flames was expected to make history.

Just not like this.

For the first time since the NHL started offering a reward for extra-time losses, the Flames have collected at least one point in each of their first five outings of a new season.

With Friday’s 3-2 triumph over the New Jersey Devils at the Saddledome, they became the first crew in Calgary’s history to achieve that feat.

Not bad for a group that was considered among the favourites to finish dead-last in the NHL standings this season.

“You know what it is? It’s great for our confidence,” said Flames captain Mark Giordano. “If we started off on a bad note, then you let those thoughts creep into your head, what everyone else is saying.

“For us, it’s great for our confidence. It’s a great start.”

The Flames (3-0-1-1) got goals from Dennis Wideman, Giordano and rookie centre Sean Monahan to spoil an impressive performance by 41-year-old puck-stopping legend Martin Brodeur, who might have been making his final start at the Saddledome.

Jiri Hudler had a pair of assists for the Flames and has hit the scoresheet in every game so far this season, while Monahan also extended his points streak to a fifth game — and his goal-scoring spree to four games — thanks to a fantastic cross-ice feed from Sven Baertschi for the game-winner with 2:43 to go.

It was an early birthday gift for Monahan, who officially turned 19 about three hours after scoring Friday’s decisive goal.

To put that in perspective, Brodeur had already notched 29 of his NHL record 669 victories when Monahan was born.

“It’s always nice to get a win before your birthday,” Monahan said. “Growing up watching (Brodeur) play and now scoring a goal on him, it’s pretty awesome. It’s even better that it’s the game-winner.”

Adam Henrique and Dainius Zubrus each scored for the Devils and Brodeur finished with 26 saves, but they weren’t going to stop the Flames from celebrating a sliver of history on this night, even if they seemed sluggish for long stretches of the game.

Wideman and Giordano each scored powerplay goals in the middle period, while Monahan made no mistake on Baertschi’s pass from the side-boards to give the hosts their first lead of the night with less that three minutes remaining.

Giordano was banished to the sin-bin with 1:19 left on the clock and the Devils sent out an extra attacker, but Flames netminder Joey MacDonald made a timely stop on Travis Zajac and the fans filed out of Saddledome with smiles on their faces, undoubtedly impressed with what this rebuilding bunch has accomplished to date.

Points in five straight contests to start the season?

That hasn’t been done before, not around these parts.

The Flames’ roadmap to success for this season is to collect six points from every five-game stretch, and they exceeded even their own expectations with eight points in their first segment.

The next set will be more challenging. The Flames have a few days to ice their bumps and bruises before embarking on a five-game road-trip that starts with Wednesday’s date with the Anaheim Ducks and also includes stops in San Jose, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Dallas.

“For us, when we started the season, there were a lot of people out there that said, ‘Nothing is going to happen in Calgary,’ and I think that just made us go even harder,” Baertschi said.

“The way that training camp went and the way the pre-season went, we were ready to go. We were sharp. That’s what happens. We practise hard. We’ve been together as team ...

“Then, you win hockey games.”
 
wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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