Timing is everything for the Calgary Flames these days.
As in, it’s a really bad time to have to face them.
The Minnesota Wild had that point hammered home for the second consecutive outing Tuesday, losing 5-1 to a Flames team that has now won 12 of 13.
Their first meeting Saturday, (a 7-3 thrashing by the Flames) came against a Calgary club hungry to avenge their lone loss in that stretch (a 7-1 thumping in Vancouver).
Tuesday’s return engagement at the Xcel Energy Center had the hosts amped up for a measure of revenge after coach Dean Evason slammed his troops for being out-gritted, out-hit, outplayed and embarrassed by the Flames.
It mattered not as the Flames pieced together what is becoming known as the team’s blueprint for road success:
Score early, take the crowd out of it, build on the lead with an Andrew Mangiapane goal, protect the lead, count on solid goaltending and watch the team’s top guns plump up their stats.
On Tuesday it was the timeliness of their snipes that made it impossible for the Wild to counter the hottest team in the league.
A Matthew Tkachuk power-play goal 72 seconds into the affair hushed the crowd, followed by Mangiapane’s 21st road snipe 10 minutes later.
An extremely physical Wild bunch was finally rewarded for muscling back into the game midway through the second when Marcus Foligno cut the lead in half.
Then came the dagger.
Twenty one seconds later, Elias Lindholm’s rocket off the inside of the post restored the Flames’ two-goal cushion – a lead that became insurmountable when Tyler Toffoli scored the team’s second power-play goal 33 seconds into the final frame.
“I think both those power play goals came at critical times – one really early in the game and one really early in the (third) period too,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter, who agreed the most important goal was Lindholm’s, which happened to be his 10th in the last 11 outings.
“This building here is such a momentum building, they play so physical and come at ya hard.
“You break up momentum right away with that shift from Lindholm’s line. It’s a big goal.”
The Flames score plenty of those these days, capping a two-game sweep of a formidable Minnesota squad by outscoring the Wild 12-4.
It’s a pretty solid bounce back for a Flames team rocked late last week by the Canucks.
“Obviously the 7-1 game was a tough one – everything that could go wrong went wrong, but it’s good our team found ways to regroup and beat a good team twice,” said Lindholm, one of a league-leading four Flames with 20 or more goals.
“We were prepared and we were hungry to get a win here. We got some goals at the right times and Marky (Jacob Markstrom) played unreal in net and we scored five goals. Overall it’s a solid game. They played physical and we matched it pretty good and found a way.”
It was another ho-hum, 32-save victory for Markstrom, whose club has a shot at setting a franchise record for consecutive home wins Thursday when crowd restrictions are lifted for what should be a raucous atmosphere against the Montreal Canadiens.
A victory really doesn’t come more complete than when the top line has six points, the second line has five, the third line scores one to put it out of reach and the airtight defence this team is known for shuts the door once again.
It really doesn’t matter how hellbent the opposition is on getting revenge when the Flames are playing like this.
“We knew they were going to come out strong and we were ready, focusing on our game,”: said Mangiapane, whose team-leading 28 goals is one more than Tkachuk has.
“Big timely goals are good and we had a lot in this one.”