On a frigid day outdoors in Calgary, the Flames were able to persevere through the conditions and hand a beating to the suddenly sliding Montreal Canadiens 4-0 at McMahon Stadium in the 2011 Heritage Classic. Rene Bourque’s two goals paced the offense while Miikka Kiprusoff got his fourth shutout of the season stopping 39 shots in the victory.
While the ice was indeed a bit different than what we saw during the Winter Classic, this time the ice being frozen so hard that they opted to not use Zambonis as opposed to warm and rainy weather, the Flames seemed to be the only team able to handle the ice and the cold as they dominated the Habs all over the ice. Calgary scored two power play goals, one from Bourque the other from Alex Tanguay, and one shorthanded goal from Anton Babchuk.
Carey Price didn’t have his best game tonight but he was still busy in stopping 33 shots in the loss. The Habs got some goat-like work out of their defensemen, Roman Hamrlik in particular who drew two penalties in the game, one leading to Tanguay’s power play goal in the third. P.K. Subban and Hal Gill conspired to give Calgary a 5-on-3 power play in the first that led to Bourque’s first goal when Tanguay hit him with a beautiful pass near the side of the net.
The Flames win was their third in a row and puts them on a hot streak that’s seen them win 11 of their last 14 games and vaulted them into the sixth spot in the Western Conference. For the Habs, it’s their third loss in a row and sixth in their last seven as they sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Losing streaks for them help put them further behind the vastly improved Bruins. Letting the division get away from them won’t help come playoff time regardless of what happened last season.
The game turned out to be the classic example of what happens when a slumping team runs headlong into a hot one. If it turns into the kind of loss that spurs the Habs into action on the trade market, it might be just the right kind of loss at the right time for them. Calgary’s rise continues in the west and has likely turned their future at the trade deadline into one of possibly buying a little bit rather than cleaning out and selling.