February 07 2012 12:05AM
It's no secret that the Flames were going to have to come out with guns blazing against the Ducks if they wanted to attempt any level of success at the Honda Center. It's never been a friendly place to Calgary, having won only once in the past 20 contests. It looked like it was going to be much of the same tonight, but the flames managed to pull it together and for the most part work their way back into this thing. In the end, it was the same old story and a 14th straight loss in Anaheim. The Flames gained a single point but still find themselves 3 points back of 8th place Minnesota.
Calgary came out with jump in the first period and it looked like the game plan was to take it hard to the Ducks right off the bat. However, they were unable to sustain it and as Anaheim started to take over, things slipped away fast. At 15:52 of the first period, Bobby Ryan was left alone in the slot, which is never a good idea. With a quick pass and the open Ryan, it was 1-0. Just 1:59 later Matt Beleskey tipped home a shot from the point while screening Kiprusoff and the Ducks appeared to be flying with a 2-0 lead. Though the scoring chances favoured Anaheim by a slim margin of 5-4, Calgary's chances came on the PP and Anaheim made theirs count.
The second period had all the potential to be over early. Anaheim came out strong and at times the Flames were constantly held inside their own zone. It didn't help the Flames cause any having to kill four penalties, including a double-minor 5-on-3. if not for the outstanding play of Miikka Kiprusoff, the game would have been over in a hurry. Despite the Flames finding themselves out-chanced by the Ducks 12-2 at 4:41, Alex Tanguay made a great effort in front of the net after it looked like Scott Hannan totally blew a 3 on 2. Hannan's slap pass/shot from five feet in front of the crease was deflected to the side of the net. Blair Jones jumped on it and threw it in front of the net, where Tanguay was able to stuff it home to pull the Flames within one.
The third period saw Calgary take over the game, out-chancing Anaheim 7-0, and eventually getting the equalizer. On the power-play, Jarome Iginla gets in behind the Ducks' defense and takes a pretty pass from Olli Jokinen; he breaks in on Hiller and makes no mistake, burying it for a 2-2 tie. Once the game was tied, the Ducks went into full shell mode, playing for overtime and the guaranteed single point.
OT didn't settle anything with both teams registering two scoring chances, and the game was off to the shoot-out.
On three different occasions the Flames had the chance to put the Ducks away, only to need Kiprusoff to make another save. in the 8th round of the shoot out, go figure, it would be Nik Hagman to score for Anaheim. When Backlund couldn't reply, it was the same old, same old for the Flames and another one goal loss to the Ducks.
ONE GOOD REASON...
... the Flames lost? I'd like to blame the loss on the play of the first two periods, but when Calgary tied it up and got it to extra time, it was a whole new game. More-so in this one, the Flames just failed to capitalize on the few opportunities they did get. The penalty kill bailed them out of this game, but despite scoring once on the PP, it wasn't enough to get them the extra point; and the Flames got worked at even strength.
Although the Ducks hit enough posts to make their own symphony, I have to go with Kiprusoff.
Calgary's top players played great tonight, especially Iginla and Tanguay; but without Miikka tonight, this game was over before Calgary and it's top players got into it. There is no doubt that his play on the 5-on-3 was nothing short of outstanding, and the spark that got the Flames ignited.
SUM IT UP
It's not the result any of us wanted to see, and it doesn't help the Flames when there is no one that is going to help Calgary out, but when you get to the shoot-out, it's a roll of the dice. I'll give full marks to the Flames for not folding when getting down early. These are important games and Calgary is going to have to find another arena to steal some points from as their unlucky string continues in Anaheim. Most likely, Calgary needs 4 out of 6 points on this trip, so they will have to pull it together for the final two games. It won't be easy either, as they face San Jose and Phoenix in back-to-back games and neither of those arenas have been a safe haven for Calgary either.