January 20 2014 11:29PM
After that gong-show in Vancouver, which I personally attended by the way (did you know the Canucks wrote a song for this season? It's as cool as you would think), the Flames were eager to play hockey again and head into their dressing rooms in peace.
The Flames lost 3-2 to the Sharks though they generally played quite well. Joe Pavelski scored twice, the winning marker coming (off of an offside entry) on the power play, batted out of mid-air.
The Flames faced a very good Sharks squad on a three-game winning streak. Obviously, the Flames were heavily outgunned and over-matched and were going to need a perfect game to win. Unfortunately for the Flames, they came up short against a very tough opponent but played a strong game overall and looked more like the Flames of October than the Flames that completely no-showed against Winnipeg.
"Can't Say They Didn't Try!"
There were some new faces returning to the Flames tonight after some lengthy time missed. During the pre-game introductions, Roger Millions, bless his heart, was summarizing the Flames who were returning from injury in tonight's game. Filled with glowing praise, Millions described the impact that a healthy Russell had on a Flames defensive corps that missed his speed, offence, and minutes, all while blocking 105 shots before his injury. However, David Jones also returned. DJ Stonehands was not the recipient of such verbose compliments. Instead, it was noted that he is in fact, tall. That about sums up his season so far for the Flames.
The game started with the Flames hanging on for dear life, though there was precedent for this. In two games against San Jose heading into tonight's game, the Sharks had scored twice in the first two minutes. The Sharks had two very good scoring chances in the first two minutes but the Flames survived and kept the game scoreless.
The Flames figured out a way to manufacture a goal early on in a game which hasn't happened a whole lot this season. Outta nowhere, during the first real zone time that the Flames had in the game and newly inked Matt Stajan on the ice, Jiri Hudler made Brad Stuart look like Shane O'Brien with an absolutely filthy set of hands one-on-one and put the Flames up 1-0 four minutes in. Oh, and that was the Flames' first shot of the game. Brodie and Giordano drew the assists on Hudler's goal and with that assist, T. J Brodie set a new career high for points with 15.
The goal seemed to stun the Sharks and spark the Flames who played quite well for the next five minutes, making the Sharks look quite disorganized in their own zone. However, things went very badly incredibly quickly for the Flames.
With seven minutes to play in the period, Justin Braun fired a shot from the point that hit Joe Pavelski, tipped in the air, and landed behind Ramo. All in all, it was a bit of a fluke and spoiled the good start that the Flames managed. Just 21 seconds after that, Tommy Wingels fired a shot from an absolutely horrid angle and somehow beat Ramo. A nasty, team-deflating, game-ending type of goal.
Well, we have seen this movie before right? Bad thing happens, Flames crater, get blown out, and you go check Boston College's season and hope they are eliminated promptly. You don't? Me neither.
Well, you might have written off this game but KEVIN WESTGARTH thinks that you are a bad person because of it. The going was getting rough, so the Flames put out the only line they can truly trust to make things happen, to bring the grittenschaften, to truculize. The Blair Jones, Kevin Westgarth, and Brian McGrattan trio. Forty seconds after the Wingels softie, Brian McGrattan took a slap shot from a fair distance, and Niemi inexplicably kicked the rebound to Westgarth who uncorked a patented wrister that we have all come to know and love from the one goal scorer, 2-2 with six minutes left.
So after four goals in 12 shots and three goals in one minute and twelve seconds, things cooled off relatively until the end of the first. The Sharks pressed hard in the final five minutes including Smid taking away a sure goal and Russell blocking another no-doubter to keep the game tied heading into the dressing room. The Sharks out-shot the Flames 10-8 after one.
The early part of the second period was a lot more calm with both teams attempting to get things under control in their own zone after a wild first. After the tepid first five minutes or so, the Sharks completely took over, including a Sharks fourth-line shift where they completely sewed the Flames into their own zone and rendered them absolutely exhausted. Fortunately for the Flames, the Sharks were unable to score despite starting the period outshooting the Flames 6-1. The Flames were able to push back and had a couple good scoring chances but at the end of an over five-minute stretch without a whistle, Stajan was charged with the game's first penalty.
Less than thirty seconds into the Sharks powerplay, a bouncing puck (and what looked to be offsides) deceived the Flames' PK and allowed Joe Thornton to get space in the slot which is never a good idea. He threw the puck shin-high to Pavelski who tipped in his second of the game and 27th (!) of the year, 3-2 Sharks with four minutes left in the second. The second period ended with the Sharks up 3-2 and leading 21-12 in shots but more importantly, perhaps my favourite Flame of late, Lord Byron, was hit with a shot in the second and only played 32 seconds of ice in the period. He left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return to the game. Just know that it is hard to see through my tears.
The Flames did a very good job of pushing back in the first half of the third period but were largely kept to the outside and were unable to get many quality chances despite having more possession and generating quite a few shots early. The Sharks sat back in their zone, parrying the Flames rushes with relative ease. The third basically melted away between the neutral zone and the peripheral areas of the San Jose end with San Jose strangling any hope of a Flames comeback.
The game ended 3-2 for San Jose and finished with the Sharks out-shooting the Flames 27-23.
|Home||1||18:59||Burns one-timer from Thornton, miss||7||8||19||31||61||88||5||7||11||22||24||31||5v5|
|Away||1||18:04||Colborne deflection from Monahan, miss||5||12||31||44||57||83||3||6||8||23||31||32||5v5|
|Away||1||15:53||Hudler off turnover, goal||7||10||31||38||61||81||5||7||18||24||31||54||5v5|
|Away||1||12:19||Backlund from Stempniak, save||8||19||22||31||52||88||5||7||11||22||24||31||5v5|
|Away||1||11:25||Jones from Stajan, miss||5||8||19||31||44||88||5||7||17||18||31||54||5v5|
|Home||1||7:39||Pavelski deflection from Braun, goal||7||8||19||31||61||88||5||7||11||22||24||31||5v5|
|Away||1||6:27||Westgarth rebound from McGrattan, goal||15||22||31||43||52||76||4||15||16||19||31||44||5v5|
|Home||1||0:51||Pavelski backhand from Irwin, block||8||19||22||31||52||88||4||11||22||24||31||44||5v5|
|Home||2||18:12||Kearns from Braun, save||7||10||31||38||61||81||3||6||8||23||31||32||5v5|
|Away||2||15:42||Bouma from Giordano, save||7||12||31||57||61||83||5||7||17||18||31||54||5v5|
|Home||2||13:36||Hayes from Sheppard, save||5||15||31||43||44||76||4||11||22||24||31||44||5v5|
|Away||2||7:22||Giordano deflection from Bouma, save||5||8||19||31||44||88||5||7||8||17||23||31||5v5|
|Home||2||5:33||Boyle rebound from Marleau, save||12||22||31||52||57||76||3||6||17||18||31||54||5v5|
|Home||2||5:07||Pavelski deflection from Thornton, goal (5v4 PP)||5||8||12||19||22||31||5||11||22||31||44||5v4|
|Home||3||16:02||Nieto from Marleau on 2on1, save||7||12||31||57||61||83||3||6||17||18||31||54||5v5|
|Away||3||15:08||Monahan backhand from Colborne, save||7||10||31||38||61||81||4||6||8||19||23||31||5v5|
|Away||3||13:42||Jones from Stajan on 3on2, miss||12||22||31||52||57||83||4||6||17||18||31||54||5v5|
|Home||3||10:46||Desjardins deflection from Kearns, save||7||10||31||38||61||81||3||11||15||17||31||44||5v5|
|Home||3||10:40||Pavelski rebound from Burns, miss||7||8||19||31||61||88||5||7||8||15||23||31||5v5|
|Away||3||8:54||Hudler deflection from Russell, save||12||22||31||52||57||83||4||11||24||31||44||54||5v5|
|Away||3||8:27||Monahan rebound from Colborne, miss||15||22||31||43||52||76||3||8||19||23||31||44||5v5|
|Home||3||4:51||Nieto deflection from Stuart on 3on2, save||7||12||31||57||61||83||4||6||8||19||23||31||5v5|
|Home||3||4:16||Burns on 2on1, miss||5||8||19||31||44||88||4||6||11||22||24||31||5v5|
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
THE RED WARRIOR
I thought there were a lot of strong efforts in this game as the Flames held their own for the most part. I thought Lance Bouma played well and had a few scoring chances mixed in with his requisite 21090 blocked shots per game. T.J Brodie had some nice rushes again this game to go with the assist that gave him a new career high. It would be great if he could find the back of the net a few more times this season as he has been close a number of times over the past few games.
pic via Teka England
However, Kris Russell finished the game leading all skaters with 23:20 of ice time and one assist and generally looked as though he was back in the shape that he was before the injury. With Stajan's signing today I would hope that the Flames have given a great deal of thought to tendering an extension to Russell as well who has been a very nice surprise this season.
SUM IT UP
It looked as though this game was going to be a high scoring shoot-em-up after a crazy first period with four goals. However, the Sharks clamped down in the second and third and head-locked the Flames into submission. The Flames dropped to 16-27-7 and remain in 27th overall, three points up on the Oilers and six points up on Buffalo (though the Sabres have three games at hand on the Flames).
If there is such a thing as losing in an acceptable manner, and there is no agreement from anyone that there is, this might be it. This was basically the most that many could have expected from this roster, even with the returning bodies, that is still a long way from being able to compete with teams like San Jose.
The Flames return home for a date with another Pacific division foe, the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night, 7:30 puck drop.