Flames upend Coyotes for rare victory on home ice
Mark Giordano returned from a broken ankle Wednesday night and the Calgary Flames got right back to winning.
That’s exactly what they were doing before he got injured.
Back in the lineup after missing 18 games, the captain scored a goal and added an assist in Calgary’s 4-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
"For me, personally, to get back in, it was a great feeling," said Giordano, who proudly wore the Flames fire hat after being the team’s choice for player of the game. "I felt pretty good. Your adrenaline gets going pretty quick and I really didn’t feel my ankle at all tonight, so that’s a great sign."
TJ Brodie also had a goal and an assist for the Flames.
Giordano’s goal was a big one, extending the lead to 3-1 at 11:46 of the second period. On the power play, Giordano’s shot from the blue line changed direction off the stick of Antoine Vermette and eluded goalie Thomas Greiss.
"Scoring always feels great. Obviously, that one was a bit lucky, going off the stick, but it was a great feeling and I felt after that for the rest of the game, we played pretty solid," said Giordano, who has 11 points in nine games — four fewer than his total in 47 games last season.
Giordano was injured Oct. 21 during a victory in Los Angeles. At the time, the Flames were 4-2-2. While he was absent, the club went 5-11-2.
"Obviously, it’s a big deal to get your captain back. He’s our leader on and off the ice," goalie Karri Ramo said. "He’s been around us the whole time he’s been hurt and trying to help the team any way he can, so it was really good to see him out there."
Mikael Backlund and Lee Stempniak also scored for the Flames, who have won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 9 and 11. They won on home ice for just the second time in their past nine games (2-5-2).
Keith Yandle scored for Phoenix, which won 6-2 in Edmonton on Tuesday night. The Coyotes have split the first two games of their four-game road trip, which continues Friday night in Vancouver.
"Got unlucky with a goal at the end of the first period that probably gave them some momentum, and we couldn’t get it back," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We had lots of pucks around the net, lots of opportunities. That’s the way it goes sometimes."
Trailing 1-0, the Flames tied it with 8 seconds left in the first period when Brodie’s shot deflected in off the leg of Phoenix defenseman David Schlemko for his career-high third goal.
"That one hit me twice — once in my foot, once in my rear end — and then it goes top shelf," Schlemko said. "Kind of an unlucky way to end the first period."
The goal sent Calgary to the dressing room even despite being outshot 11-3 in the opening 20 minutes.
Building off that momentum, the Flames played a much better second period, taking the lead at 5:48 when Backlund scored to end an 18-game drought.
"We came in here, we know we didn’t have our best first, they sort of took it to us for the first half. But those late goals, they usually are momentum swings and we did a great job of carrying it over into the second," Giordano said.
Up 3-1 heading to the third period, Calgary got some insurance at 2:44 with its NHL-leading sixth short-handed goal. Matt Stajan neatly set up Stempniak on a 2-on-1.
"I think we dominated that first period, so kind of unlucky to come out tied 1-1," Yandle said. "But at the same time, you have to come out in the second with a little more jump. We knew they were going to push back and we’ve got to do a better job there."
Making his second consecutive start after stopping 21 of 22 shots to beat Los Angeles last weekend, Ramo was excellent again. He finished with 29 saves to improve to 4-4-1.
"It was a while that I didn’t see a game, but you just have to take it game by game and don’t think about the situation too much and what’s going to happen," Ramo said. "You just have to play the game and enjoy it."
Ramo had a pair of solid glove saves in the second period, when Calgary took the lead. First he denied Vermette and then he robbed Mikael Boedker in the final minute.
With Mike Smith getting the night off, Greiss made his fourth start. He had 14 saves and fell to 3-2-0.
NOTES: Giordano logged 20:28 in ice time and was credited with three blocked shots. … Phoenix fell to 12-2-1 when scoring first. … The Flames won by more than one goal for just the second time. They entered 1-9-0 in games decided by two or more goals. … Calgary was coming off its fifth break of three or more days. Excluding the Olympic break, the Flames have just two more breaks of that length the rest of the season. … Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata had his five-game point streak snapped.