Is that the end? I don’t know, but if it is, the hearts of Calgary Flames fans may be happy. The minds may not be as happy (I feel like Bob Costas), and the feeling of dejection seems to be rather thick following a 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings. It was Calgary’s 15th shootout game of the season, and a game with, once again, almost nothing seperating the two teams…but had their fans living and dying with every rush.
The first period foreshadowed the night ahead, and that night didn’t involve a lot of offence. It was, to steal from our wordsmith Kent, a tepid offensive effort on both sides, and with final shots favoring 10-8 Calgary, they also had the edge when it came to scoring chances at 4-1. A couple powerplays either way were fruitless, and after one it was a scoreless game at Staples.
The second saw things opening up a little bit more, especially when it comes to the physical side of things, but once again no scoring. Just like in the first, Calgary limited their opposition to very little when it came to anything related to scoring chances. As Kent pointed out, the Flames did a very nice job keeping the Kings to the outside throughout, and you got an indication why scoring has been a struggle all season long in Hollywood. It was scoreless after 40.
The third period continued much the same way the prior two periods went, until a 65 minute span in the latter stages of the frame. After a strong shift for the Kings, whose lines were juggled with the loss of Justin Williams, they’d eventually tally the games first goal thanks to Jarret Stoll. He’d bury a rebound after Miikka Kiprusoff made the initial stop on Brad Richardson, and at 14:08, the Kings lead 1-0 and it seemed like this one might be over. And then bam, Olli Jokinen found his way behind the LA defence and Steve Staios hit him with a pass; a gutsy little move to slip the puck between Jonathan Quick’s pads had this game all tied at 15:13 for a 1-1 tie, and another extra time game.
Overtime was back and forth, but Calgary held the shot and chance advantage, and as we’ve seen 14 times prior this season, a Flames game would go to a shootout. After Michael Handzus was stopped, Alex Tanguay put the Flames ahead going roof on Quick, setting up a huge shot for the statistically brilliant Stoll. He’d beat Kiprusoff while Quick would stop Rene Bourque; Anze Kopitar’s shootout goal would give Curtis Glencross a chance to send this thing to extra shooters, but he’d miss, and the Kings would earn a 2-1 win.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? They only scored once in regulation. They carried the play to a small degree in this game even strength, and had six powerplay opportunities, but came away with only one goal to show in 65 minutes of hockey. That’s not surprising, going up against one of the stingiest teams in the NHL, and Calgary was very, very strong defensively. But in the end, they weren’t able to get away with a regulation win, and the coin landed tails instead of heads.
I’ll go with Tim Jackman, as I thought he was a beast. This isn’t even a fall back choice, he really was strong on this night, coming out +4 on the scoring chance count and was a driving force on a line with Ales Kotalik and Olli Jokinen. All three were strong, but man did I like Tim tonight.
Sum It Up
Crushing loss? Yes. Season ending loss? No. No one game is going to finish the Flames off, it just isn’t, but this certainly is a tough one to swallow.
Elimination Number: 7
Calgary lost a half a game on the E number, so for theoretic purposes…Calgary could win four of their last seven, and all Anaheim or Dallas would need is three wins. Not the rosiest of propositions…but let’s see what happens.