The energy around the Scotiabank Saddledome was great on Sunday night as the Calgary Flames played in their first home playoff game since April 27th, 2009. On that night, the Flames fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals to end Calgary’s season. Todd Bertuzzi was the lone goal scorer for the Flames.
Tonight though the hero would be 18-year old Sam Bennett in just his fourth NHL game of his young career. Bennett scored his first career goal at the 2:14 mark of the third period, it would turn out to be the game-winner as the Flames defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 in Game 3 of their first round series. The Flames lead the series 2-1.
Bennett made a great read on the play which set up his goal. He had just picked up his own rebound on a short shot, Bennett fed the puck to Joe Colborne before setting up below the goal line on the near side. Colborne took a sharp angle shot which got behind Eddie Lack at the top of the crease. Bennett got inside positioning on the Vancouver defenders before sliding the puck into the side netting to give Calgary a 3-1 lead on the evening.
The 4th overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft now has registered three points in his four career NHL games. Bennett was praised for his offensive ability before the draft last year as he tallied 100 points in 64 games with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League during his sophomore season with the club.
The turning point of the game though came with 5:32 remaining. Vancouver was killing a goaltender interference call on Yannick Weber when Dan Hamhuis was sent to the box for a check to the head of Bennett. Calgary would strike quickly on the 5-on-3 when Sean Monahan redirected the Johnny Gaudreau pass into the slot past Lack for the final Calgary goal of the game. Jannik Hansen did get one back late but by then the result was signed, sealed, and delivered.
We did get some more fireworks in the final minutes of the game as Alex Burrows got into a scrap with Kris Russell with 1:25 remaining. Burrows had already been called for boarding on Gaudreau before he picked the fight with Russell. Burrows got a few good shots in before Russell drove him into the ice. Burrows would earn the boarding call as well as an instigator penalty, keep an eye on that as Burrows could see a suspension for Game 4.
The fireworks were capped off with the fight that had been brewing since Game 2 as Kevin Bieksa squared off with Michael Ferland. Ferland had asserted himself as the physical man to beat in the series with a game-high 9 hits in Game 3. During a tie-up in the corner, Bieksa found himself matched up with Ferland and he let the punches go. Ferland did not stand a chance in that fight and was able to escape without any damage due to the quick jump-in from the linesmen.
Brandon Bollig and T.J. Brodie each scored for Calgary in the first period while Shawn Matthias scored the Canucks.
It was another entertaining game between these two Western Canadian rivals, Game 4 is set for Tuesday night with a 10:00 pm ET faceoff.