CALGARY – When the Blues fly back to St. Louis on Wednesday night, they’ll be celebrating a perfect 3-0 road trip through Western Canada without goaltender Chris Mason.
However, he’s not disappointed to be missing the party.
After making 23 saves to backstop St. Louis to 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames, Mason is making the 90 minute drive up the highway to his home town of Red Deer.
“I’m pretty happy that I’m going to be going home for Christmas, it’s the first time in a lot of years,” said the 33-year-old. “I had some family here tonight as well as watching the game back home. It’s going to be a nice Christmas.”
After a 3-1 win in Vancouver and a 7-2 victory over Edmonton, St. Louis got shootout goals from Brad Boyes and T.J. Oshie to knock off the Flames for the second time in eight days.
“In these last few games, when we put our mind to it and play the way we’re supposed to play, we’ve seen how we’re successful. These three games in a row have probably been three of our best games of the season,” said Mason, who improved to 11-10-4.
Boyes scored with a deke move in which he squeaked his shot inside the goalpost behind Miikka Kiprusoff.
After Olli Jokinen hit the goalpost on the Flames’ second attempt, Oshie – celebrating his 23rd birthday – cliched the win snapping a shot through Kiprusoff’s pads.
Patrik Berglund scored in regulation for St. Louis (17-14-5), which has won six of its last seven road games and is 11-3-3 away from home on the season.
“We’ve been playing bad at home and we said to each other, we have to do something, this is not good enough. So, we went on this road trip with a whole new attitude,” said Berglund.
Mark Giordano had the lone goal for Calgary (20-11-5). The Flames limp into the Christmas break with just one victory in their last six games.
“Unfortunately when it goes to a shootout like that, anything can happen,” said Giordano. “We had a good effort tonight, definitely a step in the right direction, but we need to start getting some wins.”
The Flames are seventh in the Western Conference, just two points up on the Dallas Stars and three ahead of the division rival Vancouver. The Canucks visit Calgary next on Sunday.
“With the amount of games we have coming up at home, it’s something we have to figure out right away,” said Calgary forward Nigel Dawes. “With the standings, you win and move right up and if you lose you slide right down. We’ve lost a couple too many lately and we’re almost right out of the picture.”
Having split the previous two games this season with each team posting a one-goal victory, the game was predictably close.
St. Louis scored the game’s first goal at 6:55 when Blues defenceman Mike Weaver directed a shot off the end boards that caromed sharply to the stick of Berglund in the slot who buried his fifth past Kiprusoff.
“The boards are real hard here and we knew about that so he put it off the boards and there was a lot of traffic in front of the net and it bounced right out to me and I had an open net,” Berglund said.
A 21-goal-scorer in his rookie season, Berglund came to Alberta with just three goals on the season, including just one in his last 23 games. The 21-year-old had a goal and an assist against the Oilers, his first multi-point game of the season.
“It’s nice to score, especially in a tight game like this. Hopefully this will get my confidence up a little bit,” Berglund said.
Calgary finally solved Mason at 12:18 of the third period as Daymond Langkow beat Jay McClement off the face off, passed back to the blue-line where Giordano snapped a shot that glanced in off the leg of Weaver.
Mason stymied the Flames’ top line all night.
Looking for the game’s first goal, Jokinen burst in on a breakaway early in the second but Mason jabbed out his pad to thwart Jokinen as he made a deke to his backhand.
On the same shift, Jarome Iginla then set up Dustin Boyd on a 2-on-1 but before Boyd could bury a shot into the open side, Mason darted across the goal crease to turn the shot away with his blocker.
After the Blues went up 1-0, Jokinen threatened again bowling his way to the net from off the right wing only to have his backhand turned aside.
Kiprusoff had 26 saves in falling to 18-9-5.
Notes: Calgary D Jay Bouwmeester broke two sticks on the same penalty kill. After Bouwmeester’s own stick broke while blocking a shot, Daymond Langkow gave him his stick and seconds later it also ended up broken, the result of another blocked shot. …St. Louis D Eric Brewer (back) was in the line-up after missing the previous 13 games. The return of the Blues captain knocked veteran D Darryl Sydor to the press box… Calgary D Adam Pardy (undisclosed) did not play with D Staffan Kronwall taking his spot. … When the Flames return to action on Boxing Day against Vancouver, they begin a stretch of four games in five nights.