February 05 2011 11:56PM
That was by far the most entertaining game we've seen this year at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and sometimes when you go to a shootout, the coin flips the other way. That's what happened on Saturday night as the Calgary Flames battled back to tie the game on three seperate occasions, but ultimately never lead, falling 4-3 in a shootout to the now eighth place Los Angeles Kings.
The night didn't start well for Miikka Kiprusoff and the Flames, as a Rob Scuderi flutter shot eluded 34 to give the Kings a 1-0 lead just 39 seconds into the tilt. But Calgary drew even less than a minute later when a Robyn Regehr shot got past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, with a nice Flames screen in front. Regehr's first came at 1:21 and would start a strong night for both Alex Tanguay and Brendan Morrison on the score sheet. But, on their first powerplay of the night, LA would regain the lead on a nice hand-eye display from Dustin Brown. After a Kiprusoff stop, Brown would use his stick to knock the puck out of midair and into the net and the Kings would take a 2-1 lead into the intermission.
Calgary's strongest span came early in the second, and their first eight minutes or so was extremely impressive. Tanguay would score number 13 on the year just 45 seconds in on a real nice down low sequence, and the game was all square once again. The push continued for Calgary, and they outchanced the Kings 9-1 at one point, but wouldn't be able to score again...and then LA started to push right back. At 11:02 Justin Williams would pot his 19th of the season as a Flames penalty had just expired, and once again, the Kings took a one goal lead into an intermission. It's also key to note Calgary killed off an extended 5-on-3 advantage late in the frame.
The third period was a pretty good display of how to protect a one goal lead for the Kings, but give Calgary a ton of credit. They'd keep pushing forward, and they'd keep getting their zone time. After Anze Kopitar took a holding call in the offensive zone, Calgary's powerplay would start to buzz...a nice walk the line move by Mark Giordano forced Jarret Stoll to get a stick in to draw another call, but before LA could touch it, Morrison threaded a gorgeous no-look pass to Alex Tanguay who fired it home from the right circle for a 3-3 tie. The Flames would have a full powerplay following the goal, but couldn't score, so off to overtime we went...another extra time game for Calgary.
In fact, another shootout game for Calgary, as each team managed just one shot in the extra five. Rene Bourque and Alex Tanguay would score on their opening shots for the Flames, as would Michal Handzus and Stoll for the Kings. And then it was nine consecutive saves for the goalies before Williams would fire home the winner on the 14th shooter...a great, back and forth, hard fought game goes to the Kings in a three point game.
One Good Reason...
...why the Flames lost? Plain and simple, it was the shootout, and the coin didn't flip their way. The Kings lead the chance count overall, but Calgary had the lead at ES, shots were almost a saw off, and neither team really dominated any one period. As Kent said on the air Thursday, the Flames haven't really dominated a team for a whole period in this span...but they also haven't been dominated, and that's exactly what we saw here. The only unfortunate part of this game for Calgary was the play of Rene Bourque, who has been mediocre at best this season, and was noticeably bad tonight.
Leave it to the LA Kings to draw out the best in Jarome Iginla, just like they did in the home opener. Iginla was out there for a TON of defensive zone draws, and actually took nine, winning five. The guy drove the top line, and it's not like Morrison or Tanguay were passengers. His 7-5 scoring chance differential was extremely impressive, as I counted just one favorable matchup the entire game for Iginla's line. Damn, he might not do it every game, but the guy still has the ability to run things when he's on the ice.
Sum It Up
Hey, a game that either team could have won, and with the fortune Calgary has had lately in some close games, the bounces went against them here. Some pucks went off posts in the shootout, and so they don't end up with the two points. But the message from the coach and the players was to treat this like a hard fought point, and don't look at it like a loss, and that's a pretty important message to me. Calgary's still on the outside looking in for the playoffs, and LA's win moves them into the eight spot, but that's the type of hockey game Calgary's going to be playing a lot of in the next 28.