The evidence was long ago conclusive on who won the swap Calgary made with Carolina last summer.
But if there was ever any doubt, it was erased Sunday afternoon in Carolina where all three Canes-turned–Flames marked their initial return to Raleigh with goals in a 4-3 win.
These Flames sure have a flair for the dramatic.
But the former ’Cane who signed as a free agent in Calgary did well to ensure he wasn’t omitted from the narrative by scoring on a beauty wraparound and then setting up a nifty short-handed goal by Garnet Hathaway.
It was Hathaway’s second goal in as many games, giving the Flames their 16th shorty, which is four more than anyone else in the league (and seven off the franchise record).
Ryan’s productive second period was overshadowed only by a first period goal by Lindholm, and Hanifin’s eventual game-winner with seven minutes left in the third.
Making the storyline even sexier was the fact Hamilton scored for his second straight outing in 12 days against the Flames.
After getting a taste of their own medicine in Washington two days earlier with a last-minute loss, the Flames ended their first roadie following the mid-season break with a split.
It ensured the Flames avoided losing consecutive games in regulation – something they haven’t done since mid-November.
The Flames are on a 12-2-2 run that has them sitting six points up on the Sharks for the division lead and three on the Winnipeg Jets for the conference lead.
More takeaways on a game that put the Flames a whopping 20 games above .500:
BIG SAVE DAVE LEGEND GROWS
Bill Peters surprised no one by turning to David Rittich following Mike Smith’s (solid) start Friday.
Rittich was once again spectacular, especially early in a fast-paced game he had under control despite the Flames being outplayed in the first stanza.
A huge first-period save on Justin Williams typified his ability to make saves few others in the league are capable of as part of a 34-save effort that has become the norm for the sophomore netminder.
His record is now 20-4-4, which has him top ten in the NHL for wins, goals-against average and save percentage.
At home he has yet to lose a single game in regulation this season, but on the road he has been particularly productive, posting an 11-4 mark, a .942 save percentage and a 1.86 goals-against average.
If he keeps this up, people will be forced to start including him in discussions about the league’s most dominant goalies.
Travis Hamonic suffered a lower-body injury Friday and flew home Saturday for an MRI, the results of which won’t be unveiled until Tuesday when the lads resume practice.
Rinat Valiev was summoned from the farm, only to watch from the press box as Dalton Prout drew in as the team’s sixth blue liner alongside Oliver Kylington.
It all meant Rasmus Andersson would play on the second pairing with Hanifin, acquitting himself brilliantly in over 22 minutes of action that saw a little bit of everything, including power play and penalty kill time.
He also assisted on Ryan’s goal and had a team-high six blocked shots.
A fan favourite since training camp, Andersson gives the Flames a hint of the type of depth needed in the playoffs when the war of attrition will require more efforts like these.
PETERS TOAST OF THE TOWN
Not lost is the fact Flames boss Peters was able to make a successful return to the city in which he coached the Canes for four years before resigning last summer to sign with Calgary.
He was all smiles after the game.
“What a great day yesterday – I got to go to my house and got to see my daughter,” chuckled Peters, whose daughter stayed in Carolina to attend college.
“I got some work done in my house and found a bottle of Caymus in the wine fridge there and brought that home to give to my wife.
“I went and got all the good stuff out of there. The cheap stuff, the vinegar, I left in the fridge.”
The native of Three Hills, Alta. has indeed been masterful at separating the wheat from the chaff all season long.
MORE STORM SURGES IN THE WORKS
The Flames win ruined the creative post-game celebration the Hurricanes have made a thing following their home wins. Lindholm, in particular, was booed by the crowd several times, prompting him to punctuate the game by mocking the crowd’s reaction to their team’s post-game storm surge.
Veteran Justin Williams insists their new tradition, known as Storm Surge, will continue despite the fact it’s getting harder and harder to come up with fresh material.
“We had a lot of ideas, but the vault is getting a little bit thin,” smiled Williams during his club’s visit to Calgary 12 days earlier.
“But we’ve created something with it, we’re enjoying it and we’re not going to let it die now because people are really enjoying it. We’ll come up with more.”
Has the group, which punctuated their win Friday with a spirited game of Duck, Duck, Goose, studied some of the post-game celebrations being performed in Europe?
“We’ve seen some of their stuff,” said Williams, pausing to be diplomatic.
“You want to toe the line between being just dumb as opposed to being fun.
“We’re not out there to embarrass ourselves. We’re there to have fun and interact with the fans and celebrate for a minute after the game with the people who stick around and most of the time nobody leaves, which means they’re enjoying it.”
Micheal Ferland credited Williams’ 10-year-old son with being the creative director behind it all, which Williams shot down.
“He only did one,” said Dad.
“He did the dominoes one.”
UP NEXT: Flames host San Jose Thursday before embarking on a four-game road trip starting in Florida.