December 30 2011 08:42PM
For a third straight game, the Calgary Flames were noticeably controlled by an opponent with an inferior record. On Friday night in Ottawa, they staked themselves to a 3-0 first period lead that was not in line with the way they played. Even with that lead, nothing changed, and that allowed the Senators to claw back and force overtime, eventually using career goal #400 from Daniel Alfredsson to skate to a well earned 4-3 victory.
For a second straight night, the Flames got off to a very early lead, making Alex Auld look like, well, Alex Auld just 23 seconds in. Auld's misplay of the puck allowed Rene Bourque to take a shot from the left corner, and as it pinballed off two Senators players, it eventually squeeked through for a 1-0 lead on his 12th of the season. A powerplay opportunity for the Flames swelled the lead to two, with Curtis Glencross taking a great pass from Jay Bouwmeester and rifling home his 15th at 6:25. Late in the frame, Auld helped Calgary with another, as Chris Butler scored his first as alead Flame with an innocuous shot from the left point at 18:49. The odd thing in the first? Calgary wasn't very good, as they were outchanced 10-5 in the first period, yet lead 3-0.
The second period didn't see anything change for the Flames, and this time their play started to fall in line with the score. Nick Foligno opened the scoring 3:34 into the middle frame as the puck just got by Leland Irving and Foligno's 11th got the Sens on the board. Ottawa would draw within one at 12:01 thanks to Zack Smith who beat Irving clean, and just like that, it was white knuckle time once again for the Flames. Scoring chances slanted the Senators way once again, this time at a 10-4 count. 20 chances against and still Calgary lead after 40.
Until the 4:28 mark of the third period, as Erik Karlsson was good for his fifth of the season on a play he created. Karlsson would eventually finish the play going behind the net and beating Irving tying this game at three. That kinda ended the game controlled by Ottawa, as things were reeled in a little by the Flames, a little too little too late, as this game was off to overtime with Calgary fortunate to gain a point.
Overtime saw Rene Bourque take a holding penalty racing with Erik Karlsson for a puck in the Ottawa zone, and that allowed the Senators to win the game at 3:31. Daniel Alfredsson's 400th came from the left point on a nice teed up pass from Karlsson, sending Ottawa to their fourth win in six nights.
One Good Reason...
...why the Flames lost? Another flat effort for the balance of the hockey game. Calgary allowed 26 chances in regulation and seven more in overtime to yield a scary 33 scoring chances over a 65 minute span. Most nights, the Flames wouldn't have a sniff in this one, yet they earned a point which is I guess the only real positve you can take out of this sucker.
That's not true. The play of Leland Irving was also a positive, as he made 45 stops en route to a third straight impressive performance. Irving's body of work is getting larger, and there are very few negatives to take from that body of work. With Henrik Karlsson on the shelf a little longer, Irving has the opportunity to turn this into a real discussion as to who should be Miikka Kiprusoff's backup.
Sum It Up
Once again, take the point and run. This was one of Calgary's loosest efforts of the season and the fact they got this thing past regulation is a minor miracle. 3-0 was a very inflated score after one, so I'm not even all that disappointed they gave up the lead, because it's a full game thing that was the issue tonight. You could see this comeback coming a mile away and it happened, now it's on to Nashville New Years Day. There are positives though. This team still has points in 14 of their last 18 games with ten wins mixed in along the way.