OK, technically Joni Ortio came from the AHL … and Finland before that. The Calgary Flames selected him with the 171st pick in the 2009 NHL Draft and he actually appeared in nine games last season.
Still, it felt like Ortio came out of nowhere on Saturday, probably especially to the Vancouver Canucks. Ortio stopped all 36 of their shots tonight to give Calgary a 1-0 win.
The Flames made the 23-year-old sweat it, too, as Mikael Backlund scored the game’s only goal 5:38 into the first period.
It’s unclear how long Ortio’s audition might be with the Flames, as the early word on Karri Ramo’s injury is that it doesn’t seem too significant.
Whatever the longer term case may be, Ortio generated some rare success for Calgary against Vancouver:
And prompted a laudably cringe-inducing pun:
He even survived potential jinxing from the Canucks’ Twitter account, which seems a little mean and maybe a little too deliberate to work:
Ortio’s AHL numbers have been pretty respectable (17-8-1 record, .916 save percentage), so maybe he’s career trajectory runs higher than “Who’s that guy who shut out Vancouver that one time?”
Meanwhile, the Canucks were happy with their efforts, if not their luck:
As of this writing, the Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets have only played one period of hockey, yet you’d think it was a full night of action.
The score’s already 3-2 as the Kings stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to make it a game again. Three of those five tallies came on the power play, to boot.
There’s a reason why special teams units have been a factor beyond the efficiency of both team’s power play units, too. Simply put, it’s been a physical game so far; that much was probably most clear when Kyle Clifford caught Anthony Peluso with a controversial hit that caused a ruckus (as the Kings’ website notes):
Dustin Byfuglien has been throwing his big body around as well:
We’ll see if there are more fireworks as this game goes on.
Here’s an idea of how wild the start was, if you stretch the parameters ever so slightly:
Update: The Jets ended up winning 5-4 (shootout) in a contest that was still pretty contentious and exciting as it went on.
The St. Louis Blues have been a bulldozer of an offensive team lately, and Brian Elliott’s probably been the goalie who benefited the most from that work recently. Elliott and the Blues hit a brick wall in the form of the Carolina Hurricanes tonight, though.
After only allowing four goals during a three-game winning streak, Elliott gave up three goals in less than 13 minutes of play before getting replaced by Jake Allen on Saturday.
Eric Staal’s goal was the straw that broke the camel’s back, yet it’s also evidence that it was a slow start for the Blues as a whole, not just Elliott:
Did the Blues merely take the Hurricanes too lightly tonight? We’ll see if they can manage a comeback.
Update: It turns out St. Louis did manage to rally in this one. The Blues came back from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits to send the game to overtime and eventually win 5-4 via a shootout. Clearly, it isn’t wise to count their offense out.