Sometimes you play a pretty good hockey game and you don’t come away with a win, and that was the case in a lot of ways Saturday night, as Calgary fell 4-2 at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks. Calgary held a 2-1 lead in the second period, but were unable to hold off the hard charging Canucks, a team that is on top of the NHL for a reason. The loss snaps Calgary’s ten game point streak and drops them out of the Western Conference playoff picture.
It was a fairly tightly contested hockey games in a lot of ways, and it wasn’t until midway through the first period when we saw our first goal. It came on Vancouver’s first powerplay of the game, and one of the league’s most lethal units cashed in when Mason Raymond fired a nice pass through the crease to Alex Burrows. The opening frame could have been some foreshadowing for the rest of the game, as the Canucks made life extremely difficult on the Flames, limiting them to two scoring chances in the opening frame.
But the second period saw the Calgary Flames get a couple chances, and saw them score a couple of times. Matt Stajan set up the tying marker, cutting to the net and looking like he’d shot, instead finding a trailing Tim Jackman off the blueline. Jackman would pot his tenth of the season, extending a career high and getting a little more jump in the team. Just 2:16 later, it was the top line doing some nice work down low, and it was Brendan Morrison finding Curtis Glencross all alone in the slot. For the third time in three games, Glencross would score, wiring a shot past Roberto Luongo for his 17th of the season. Give the Flames credit, as they battled back to take their first lead of the game, but it was Vancouver doing what they do after that. Mikael Samuelsson scored his first of two at 10:40, using a nice screen in front from Ryan Kesler in front to draw the Canucks even. Then on an Anton Babchuk penalty, Vancouver would score again on the powerplay, and it was Samuelsson again firing one from the right point to beat Miikka Kiprusoff, again with a nice screen in front. Just like they did after the first period, the Flames would trail heading into the final frame.
A couple of Calgary powerplays in third and a desperate team in chase mode had the Flames buzzing in the third period, but lets not forget who they were playing. Vancouver can play when they’re running things, and they can play when they’re being ran, and they did well with the latter in the third. Calgary outchanced the Canucks 10-2 in that frame, and had a few glorious opportunities to tie the game. Rene Bourque hit a post and Brendan Morrison was thwarted on a breakaway attempt, and an empty net goal from Burrows closed off a 4-2 Vancouver win.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Well, sometimes these games happen. Against the best team in the NHL, the Flames trailed heading into the third period, and more often than not, you’re not going to come away with success. The point streak was going to end at some point, and it makes sense it would end against the Canucks I guess. But the Flames should take a ton of positives away from this game, because they did what we talked about them needing to do in FGD. They got back to the way they needed to play, and sometimes you’ll lose even if you play well.
Jarome Iginla was simply dominant at times tonight, and he really did drive his line with Curtis Glencross and Brendan Morrison. Glencross was +7 in the scoring chance count at ES while Iginla was only +5, but I thought it was the captain asserting himself the most. He was dominant along the boards, he was impossible to knock off the puck, and he was playing a true north-south game. Committment was shown at both ends of the ice, and let’s not forget his line was out against either Kesler’s unit or the Sedin line. Good stuff from Jarome tonight.
Sum It Up
Thanks to a Minnesota win, Calgary moves to ninth in the Western Conference, and the Wild still have three games in hand. We talked about the Flames getting back to the type of hockey they had been playing, and they did, but didn’t win. Now, do it again, don’t deviate in Colorado, and more often than not, you’ll get two points against an Avalanche team finally starting to look a little more like they should.