Flames halt record 25-game skid at Anaheim
ANAHEIM, Calif. — It took a goalie from the Arizona desert to end the Calgary Flames’ 13-year search for a victory in the wilderness of Orange County.
Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund registered goals, and Mike Smith made 43 saves as the Calgary Flames ended an NHL-record losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.
The Flames (2-1-0) had dropped 25 consecutive regular-season games in Anaheim — with their last victory at Honda Center coming on Jan. 19, 2004. Calgary logged its first road win of the season.
Smith, who was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason, posted his 34th career shutout and was especially strong in the second and third periods, stopping a combined 34 Anaheim attempts.
The whitewash was Smith’s fourth career shutout against Anaheim and improved his lifetime record against the Ducks to 13-8-3.
As far as snapping their streak of futility at Honda Center, the Flames felt the streak was more of a nuisance than anything, having to address it before the game.
“This victory is more for our fans than anything else,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. “I haven’t been here that long, and I thought it was a great hockey game. The penalty kill helped us and the specialty teams obviously got us a goal, and you can’t win without specialty teams in this league.”
Another player who joined Calgary in the offseason via trade from the New York Islanders, defenseman Travis Hamonic, marveled at Smith’s performance.
“He’s a heck of a goalie, and it’s great to be playing in front of him,” Hamonic said.
The Ducks (1-1-1) lost their second consecutive home game and failed to convert on five power-play attempts. Anaheim goalie John Gibson made 27 saves.
Starting the game short-handed without wingers Nick Ritchie and Patrick Eaves, Anaheim’s offense took another hit when Ondrej Kase left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Coach Randy Carlyle said Kase would be re-evaluated Tuesday.
Despite the Ducks’ high shot total, Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf believed that the quality of the attempts was a major factor in keeping his team off the board.
“I don’t know if we did a good enough job getting in there for second and third opportunities,” Getzlaf said. “We directed a lot of pucks at the net, but I don’t think we had any rebound opportunities until the third period.”
Carlyle was glad to see Getzlaf back in the lineup. The big center missed the first two games, but due to the club’s significant early-season injury list, he is expected to play big minutes.
“He’s going to play himself back into game shape in a hurry if we play him 22 minutes a night,” Carlyle said. “We were desperate for goals late in the game, so we used him on the point on the power play. I saw some rust in his game, specifically early, but he got a lot better as the game went on. I expect him to continue to improve.”
Monahan gave the Flames a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal, his first tally of the season, at 16:27 of the second period. With Anaheim’s Kevin Bieksa in the penalty box for cross-checking, Kris Versteeg’s pass deflected off the stick of Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler to Monahan, who was stationed in the slot. Monahan fired a quick wrist shot past Gibson for the score with Johnny Gaudreau drawing the secondary assist.
Calgary extended to a 2-0 lead on Backlund’s second goal of the season at 6:19 of the third period. Backlund was left unchecked on a rush into the Anaheim zone. Michael Frolik’s pass found him in stride for a wrist shot that beat Gibson over his right shoulder for the insurance marker. Matthew Tkachuk registered the secondary assist.
The first period was scoreless. Calgary outshot Anaheim 10-9 and both teams failed on two power-play attempts. Anaheim’s Corey Perry and Hamonic engaged in a rare fight.
NOTES: The Flames conclude their two-game Southern California road trip in Los Angeles on Wednesday. ... Calgary scratched C Freddie Hamilton, D Brett Kulak and RW Jaromir Jagr. The 45-year-old Jagr accompanied the team on the trip but is not expected to play. The expectation is that he will make his Flames debut Friday at home against Ottawa. ... Anaheim did not dress D Korbinian Holzer, LW Nick Ritchie and LW Giovanni Fiore. ... Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf made his first appearance of the regular season after missing the first two games with a lower-body injury. ... The Ducks conclude their four-game, season-opening homestand on Wednesday against the New York Islanders.