Butler scores in OT, Flames edge Hurricanes 2-1
A tumultuous day for the Calgary Flames ended on a high note thanks to Chris Butler.
The defenseman scored his second goal of the season at 4:56 of overtime after Karri Ramo stopped Jeff Skinner on a penalty shot late in the third period, giving the Flames a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
Brian McGrattan also scored for Calgary and Paul Byron had two assists, hours after President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke fired Flames general manager Jay Feaster and assistant John Weisbrod.
''It was a tough morning. Obviously it's pretty surprising when Burkie comes down to the locker room and delivers that type of news,'' Butler said. ''Jay has been such a good guy to all of us here. It's tough to see a guy like that let go. He's pretty responsible for bringing a lot of guys in. We certainly wish him the best and it was nice to get a win today.''
Skinner tied it midway through the third but was denied by Ramo on a penalty shot with 5:25 left in regulation. Carolina fell to 0-1-2 on a four-game trip.
''Just trying to make the save, be big, and not give him very much to shoot at. I wanted to give a chance for our guys to win,'' Ramo said.
Byron crossed the Hurricanes blue line in overtime and curled back patiently before sending a pass across to Butler, who wristed a shot from 50 feet out that beat a screened Justin Peters.
''Paul did a great job, having great patience hanging onto the puck, and I just tried to be available there and really just throw a muffin on net,'' Butler said.
Peters said when Mikael Backlund crossed in front of him, he lost track of the puck.
''Just a mental lapse on my part. He went right through the line of the puck. I've got to do a better job of fighting to find it earlier, especially with that much time left,'' Peters said.
Both goalies played well. Ramo made 29 stops to improve to 5-5-1. Peters, making his fourth start in the last six games for the Hurricanes, had 27 saves but dropped to 6-8-2.
''A sour end to a great effort by our team, that's for sure,'' Peters said. ''We played a solid game, came out strong in the third, took the play to them a lot.''
Next, the Flames (12-15-4) head out on a five-game Eastern road swing that begins Saturday in Buffalo.
Calgary took a 1-0 lead into the third period, but for the third game in a row couldn't hold the advantage. Skinner scored at 11:10 after being set up by Tuomo Ruutu and Eric Staal.
It was a soft goal for Ramo to allow, coming on a 30-foot wrist shot that trickled through his pads.
Ramo got a chance to redeem himself less than 4 minutes later when Ladislav Smid's hook on Skinner during a breakaway resulted in a penalty shot.
Skinner tried to beat Ramo between the legs again, but this time Ramo stoned him to keep the game even.
''Looking back, I would have done something different,'' Skinner said. ''I tried to open him up but he didn't really bite on my fake. I probably shouldn't have forced it in there.''
McGrattan, who scored the only goal of the first two periods, thought that save was the difference.
''That was huge. That probably won us the game right there,'' he said. ''We came out after that save was made and we were flying. You need saves like that to win games.''
It was an eventful day in Calgary. In the morning, Burke announced the firings of Feaster and Weisbrod, an assistant GM.
Throughout his press conference, Burke alluded to the Flames being too small, not tough enough and needing to play more hostile, or truculent, as he likes to describe it.
Appropriately, it was the team's most physical player, McGrattan, who opened the scoring at 17:49 of the second period. It was the first goal of the season for McGrattan and his first in 30 games dating to last season.
''We reacted the right way. A lot of things in the game are out of your control,'' McGrattan said. ''You can only control the things that you do and that's how hard you work and how good your attitude is. I think we regrouped today and got a big win.''
Both teams welcomed back veteran forwards to their lineup.
For the Flames, Curtis Glencross (knee) returned after missing 15 games and TJ Galiardi (back) was back in after being sidelined for eight games.
Carolina got Alexander Semin (concussion) back after he missed 12 games.
''We had chances, we just didn't capitalize and it came back to bite us,'' Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. ''I thought it was going to be a low-scoring game, tight. I was happy the way we stuck with it tonight.''
NOTES: The Hurricanes lost rookie Elias Lindholm early in the first period when he was hit hard into the side boards by Mark Giordano. Lindholm will be re-evaluated Friday. ... Galiardi has gone 21 games without a goal. ... Carolina RW Patrick Dwyer played his 300th NHL game. Backlund played No. 200. ... The Flames improved to 7-4-2 with Giordano in the lineup. ... In its last eight home games, Calgary has given up a total of five goals over the first two periods and 14 in the third period and overtime. ... Carolina plays in Phoenix on Saturday.