It wasn’t the best display of how to protect a one goal lead put on by the Calgary Flames on Friday night, and in the end, the home side was unable to hold on, falling 4-3 in a shootout to the San Jose Sharks. Calgary was able to earn the single point, but with slight edge heading into the final frame, they didn’t do nearly enough to keep the high powered Sharks at bay, with a Ryane Clowe goal late in the game sending things to extra time.
The Sharks opened the scoring early in an opening sequence that seemed to foreshadow some torrid hockey for the rest of the night. The first five minutes was back and forth, and the Sharks were able to get on the board first at 3:34 with Devin Setoguchi following up his own shot and putting it past Miikka Kiprusoff. The Sharks eased off a little bit after that, settling things down after killing off their first powerplay, and not a whole lot happened until near the end of the period. With Calgary starting to buzz a little more, the team entered the zone with a little speed and it was Anton Babchuk who would decide to fire a shot on net. It wasn’t the most dangerous of shots, but it beat San Jose goalie Antti Niemi clean to tie things at one. Shortly thereafter, an apparent Sharks goal was not waved off thanks to a quick whistle, so a little bit of good fortune had the Flames even with San Jose heading to the second.
The middle frame was fairly uneventful for the most part, with the Sharks getting back on top with Kyle Wellwood would bang home his third of the season at 9:37. It was Calgary especially doing not much of all for the majority of the second until they revved things up in the final five minutes, scoring twice in a span of 1:36. It started with a fast break and an Olli Jokinen pass to David Moss on the right wing…from the half boards, Moss would rifle home his 14th on the year, and once again Calgary would draw even. Then, with San Jose sitting back a little, Niklas Hagman would take full advantage, pushing the Sharks D back, making a few stick moves and eventually roofing it on Niemi for his 10th, and even with some listless play, Calgary was leading heading into the final 20.
The Flames actually had the majority of a four minute powerplay carry over to the third, but a lack of any urgency made for little in the terms of scoring chances, and then the tide started to turn. San Jose would draw back-to-back penalties and generate just two scoring chances on them, but the man advantage wasn’t where they did their damage. The Sharks absolutely worked the Flames in the final ten minutes, getting a number of quality chances before finally evening things up at 17:26 with Ryane Clowe driving home his 18th of the year. All that work paid off, and the game was off to extra time.
Not a lot happened in overtime, with the Sharks getting the best chance, and here’s a surprise…the Flames were off to a shootout. Kyle Wellwood and Joe Pavelski both missed their shots while Rene Bourque and Alex Tanguay were stopped. So, Clowe (who was a beast) would score and Olli Jokinen would be stopped…game, set and match, another San Jose win.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? They were worked at even strength, especially in the third period. Calgary’s best players were absolutely awful tonight, with Jarome Iginla finishing -12 in the scoring chance count, having his worst game in a long, long time. Talking to Brendan Morrison (who was -7 himself) in the room afterwards, he said "our line was absolutely invisible tonight" and he wasn’t joking. Not very many players finished in the plus in the scoring chances count, and Calgary just wasn’t good enough 5-on-5.
This one is a no-doubter in my mind…David freaking Moss. The guy was an absolute force on the penalty kill, better than he usually is, and he drove things at even strength. The guy was full marks for his goal, and his line alongside Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross was still probably the best one on the ice for the home team. Moss has been very, very, very good for about three months now.
Sum It Up
Not enough from the best players, a game where the Flames were beaten at even strength, and a game where they got some fortunate bounces…hey, the Flames should probably be happy to come away with a point. That’s a very good San Jose team, and they were full marks for the win, and so Calgary can move on to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night.
Note: Tim Jackman left the game in the second period after a fight with Clowe, his second tilt of the game, this time with Clowe. He was tagged with a big shot in the middle of the fight, Clowe knew something was up, stopped pumping him and Jackman skated right off and did not return. All reports seemed to suggest there was something messed with his eye, so fingers crossed on him.