February 09 2012 10:43PM
It was the third game in four nights for Calgary, and there is little doubt from a disappointing start in LA to a thrilling all out victory last night in San Jose, by the time the Flames got to Phoenix, they were dog-tired. It showed in the tempo of tonight's game too and the Coyotes were more than happy to oblige the Flames, as they played a grinding style of just constantly clogging up the middle of the ice and biding their time.
The Flames got the short end of the stick again tonight, losing the game in a heartbreaker, in that while short-handed, they had a penalty killer go down. Playing a 4 on 2 with no gas in the tank? Well you get the idea.
The game definitely didn't start with the same pace as last night. For the most part it was a period of hesitation, almost like most of the time the players were just getting a feeling for each others team. That might have very well been the case given that it was the first meeting of the season between the two clubs.
Believe it or not, it was also the most eventful period of the game. The Flames out-chanced the Yotes 6-4, but it was Phoenix that opened the scoring. At 7:43 of the first, Taylor Pyatt scored his 7th of the season to give the home team a 1-0 lead. It wasn't the best of circumstances for Calgary either. The play actually started with a nice rush into the Phoenix zone by TJ Brodie. As he circled the net for the wrap-around, Brodie saw that the play wasn't there and instead rounded the corner with the puck. As a result, he fell; out of position, the Coyotes took the puck back up the ice on a 3 on 1. Pyatt lets loose a wrist shot that Irving almost had, and probably should have had, but rather the puck bounces off his pad and finds the back the net.
The second period was nothing short of painful to watch. Phoenix out-chanced Calgary 4-1, but there was no scoring by either side. the most entertaining part of the period was watching Keith Yandle flex his muscles by taking after Lance Bouma and Mikael Backlund. Yes, it's was as impressive as it sounds to watch.
The third period had a bit of familiarity to it from last night. The Flames get on the board at the 4:01 mark with Olli Jokinen's 17th of the season. The goal was similar to Olli's first goal last night in that it was a total fluke. Instead of accidentally deflecting in the shot from the point, Jokinen inadvertently deflects Mark Giordano's slap shot off his pants and past Mike Smith. Sometimes it good to be lucky and lucky to be good; whatever it is the puck is loving Jokinen. The goal was one of only two scoring chances for Calgary in the whole period, yet they still out-chanced Phoenix 2-1.
As a result, once again the Flames find themselves going to overtime, and to be honest, they were looking better as the game when on; however, the fuel just wasn't in the tank. In a scramble in the corner, Mikael Backlund takes a tripping penalty to put Phoenix on just their third powerplay of the night. Everything was going fine until Blair Jones blocked a shot in his foot and became instantly immobile. With the Yotes basically on a 4 on 2 in the Flames zone, Shane Doan buried his 16th of the season, to give Phoenix the win.
ONE GOOD REASON...
... the Flames Lost? Because they got out-shot 36-23, they went 0/3 on the PP and they were down two men in overtime. I'm sure the fatigue factor contributed to all of these events, yet then again, it all comes down to how much you want it in a game like this. I didn't see the same urgency in the Flames' game as in the previous two. Maybe with getting 3 out of 4 points in the other two games, the Flames were going to be content with 4 out of 6 on the road trip. The unlikely win in San Jose gave them a breath, but they squandered the opportunity to move into a playoff spot tonight.
I'm going with Irving tonight. The first goal he let in wasn't great but he really buckled down and played a solid game. Stopping 34 of 36 shots in his first game since the Boston blow-out, he showed great composure and was steady all night long. Every time Irving steps in the crease he is making it a harder decision for the Flames as to who should be Kiprusoff's back-up. Aside from the Beantown game, even when Leland loses, he manages to get the Flames a point, something Karlsson has hardly been able to do this season. Undoubtedly, Irving is showing he is ready for the NHL and is proving he deserves his shot.
SUM IT UP
Four out of six points on the road isn't bad, especially when three of them come on a back-to-back where you hardly ever win. However, the game tonight stings in that yeah, you salvaged a point, but you also gave up two to a team you need to catch for a playoff spot. This marks the fourth time the Flames have approached the 8th seed, only to let it slip away. It doesn't get any easier going home either. Phoenix was the chance to make up ground in the conference, now you have to face Vancouver on Saturday. Is it another must-win game? Hey, aren't they all now?