Flames outshoot Jets as teams renew rivalry

Geoff Kirbyson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG -- Reto Berra didn't know any of the history between the Calgary Flames and the old Winnipeg Jets but he got a quick lesson Monday night.
The Flames goaltender, who was born in Switzerland in 1987, channeled his inner Mike Vernon in a 5-4 shootout win over the Jets as the two teams -- bitter rivals in the '80s and '90s -- turned back the clock in front of 15,003 fans at the MTS Centre.
There were no goals in the first period but then three in the second and five in the third.
You want firewagon hockey? The Jets outshot the Flames 47-33, including 23 in the second period alone. The Jets' last shot came off the stick of center Bryan Little with just six seconds left in regulation time and sent the game to overtime.
Fittingly, there was a shootout in this shootout, which ended after Flames center Sean Monahan beat Jets goalie Al Montoya in the eighth round.
Berra said he didn't have time to feel sorry for himself after Little's late goal.
"That's tough. Everybody was screaming in the stadium. I tried to stay positive and take it as energy," he said.
"The shootout, it's crazy. All the thoughts go through my mind, you try to keep going. It was pretty emotional. It was a lot of pressure in the shootout but I don't mind it, I think I like (the shootout) a little bit."
It took a little while for the two teams to renew acquaintances in Winnipeg -- they hadn't played in the city since April 6, 1996 -- but if you closed your eyes for a second, you'd have sworn Hakan Loob was facing off against Dale Hawerchuk and Tim Hunter was battling in front of the net with Jim Kyte.
Flames coach Bob Hartley said there was no question it was a nail-biter for everybody in the building.
"If that one was not exciting for (the fans), it sure was for me," Hartley said.
"We made it interesting, we made it tough on us, but at the end, we found a way to win so big two points."
Hartley was quick to praise his young goaltender.
"He's a very proud young man. And despite the fact that he gave up the equalizing goal late in the game, he never lost his focus. I rarely saw a goalie give up four goals and play that well," he said.
Jets coach Claude Noel wasn't overly critical of his squad, saying his players looked like they were playing their third contest in four nights.
"That was a pretty strange game in my books. I thought either team could have won it any time. We chased the game, not only from a goals standpoint, but I thought it was pretty wild in a lot of ways. I was wondering how it would go. I wasn't settled all night. There was no point that I was comfortable," he said.
Noel declined to comment on the officiating, which prompted a number of "Ref you suck!" chants from the crowd. In particular, a seemingly obvious interference play by Flames left winger Lance Bouma on Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien late in the game went unpunished and led to the Flames' third goal. Little also received a 10-minute misconduct at the end of OT and couldn't be used in the shootout.
"The fans wouldn't be alone (in wondering about the officiating). What do you want me to tell you? I don't want to talk about the officiating or the calls they made. I won't benefit, it won't be a benefit to anybody," he said.
The Flames opened the scoring at 9:01 of the second period when left winger Mike Cammalleri blasted a power-play goal past Montoya. The Jets responded a little more than two minutes later when right winger Michael Frolik banged a rebound past Berra after a point shot from defenseman Grant Clitsome.
The Flames retook the lead at 15:24 when a point shot from defenseman TJ Brodie appeared to pinball off the body parts of several players before fluttering by a screened Montoya.
Former Flame Olli Jokinen tied it at 2-2 when his innocent-looking wrist shot found its way past a screened Berra. It was the veteran center's fourth goal of the year. He had just seven in all of last year's shortened season.
Just when it looked like the Jets had the momentum, their league-worst power play failed them once again. Flames center Matt Stajan came in on a shorthanded rush and -- after Bouma ran interference on Byfuglien -- passed it to his left winger, who deked out Montoya at 11:17.
Byfuglien tied it again -- on that same power play -- at 12:10 of the final frame when he slapped home a rebound in Berra's crease for his fifth of the season.
Flames center Jiri Hudler appeared to have driven the dagger into the Jets' hearts at 16:34 when his snapshot from the top of the circle beat Montoya. But then the Jets' recent third-period heroics continued when Little performed his last-second magic.
NOTES: Jets C Olli Jokinen knows a thing or two about the Flames having had a pair of tours of duty in Calgary (2008-2010 and 2010-2012) interrupted by a 26-game stint with the New York Rangers. ... Jamie Macoun, a former Flames defenseman, is still a four-letter word in Winnipeg more than 28 years after breaking Dale Hawerchuk's ribs in the Jets' first-round playoff win in 1985. Minus their leader, arguably the best Jets team ever was subsequently swept by the Edmonton Oilers. ... Calgary was one of the last teams to play in Winnipeg since the NHL returned for the 2011-12 season. The two that have yet to return to Manitoba are the Columbus Blue Jackets (who played at Winnipeg in a preseason game in September 2011) and the Vancouver Canucks.

What to Read Next