The Calgary Flames dropped to 1-3 on the season Saturday night, falling 3-2 at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs to finish off a three game road trip. Calgary started the game in a strong fashion, with a pair of goals 82 seconds apart in the first period before Toronto replied for their three tallies to win the hockey game. The Leafs have yet to lose on the season while Calgary returns home for a six game homestand.
While I thought Toronto controlled the puck early in the first period, it was Calgary opening the scoring at 4:18 of the opening frame. Curtis Glencross would pot his third at the right side of the night, finishing off a really solid shift from his line with Olli Jokinen and Lee Stempniak. Jokinen’s pass was a good one cross-crease making it easy for Glencross to finish it off. 1:22 later Scott Hannan would give the Flames a two goal lead, taking a pass from Niklas Hagman at the left point, ripping it for his first on the year at 5:40 of the opening frame. It was a fairly even first period, with scoring chances finishing 6-6.
The second period saw another fairly even twenty mintues, so it made sense after 40 that the game was tied. 85 seconds in, the Flames were caught with a few players trailing which allowed Joffrey Lupul to rip his second on the year past Miikka Kiprusoff to get Toronto within one. The tying goal for the Maple Leafs came after an Alex Tanguay pass didn’t result in an offensive chance and lead to a Carl Gunnarsson stretch pass to Phil Kessel. Kessel would turn Chris Butler inside out one-on-one and go shelf on Kiprusuoff. The teams went to the second intermission tied 2-2, and scoring chances were even once again, at 7-7.
Just one goal in the third period and it came 41 seconds in, with Kessel breaking down the right wing. He would go wide on the Calgary defender and make the smart move, instead of taking the shot, he’d try the pass. The puck would bounce off Stempniak’s back-checking skate and just past the line for a 3-2 Toronto lead, which would hold up for the remainder. I really felt Toronto owned the puck in the third period, and it didn’t allow Calgary to chase as effectively as perhaps they’d like. The best chance to tie things came in the waning seconds, with Rene Bourque missing a wide open net on the right side, instead shooting it right into Leafs goalie James Reimer.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? See above when talking about the third period. It was a fairly evenly played hockey game through 40 or so minutes, with both teams generating things at even strength. But after Kessel’s eventual winner, I didn’t feel there was enough done by Calgary to really push it, and it ended up allowing the Maple Leafs to control a lot of the possession. Reimer made the stops he needed to, and the Leafs won.
Olli Jokinen all the way. I thought he was outstanding tonight, and he took on the Toronto heavies for most of the hockey game. Olli finished +6 in scoring chance differential and drove his line with Glencross and Stempniak, with both of them having solid games as well. Jokinen was matched against Gravovski for the most part, and I thought he did a really, really strong job.
Sum It Up
The game probably should have been 2-2 after two periods, but the third didn’t see the type of game they wanted. I felt Toronto won the final frame even though they were outshot, and when it comes down to one 20 minute frame like that, it’s really all you needed. On the positive side, Calgary didn’t go away, and they didn’t allow the Leafs to get any further ahead than one, and gave themselves a chance to be in the game late. Now, a six game homestand, an important one for the team as they try not to fall too far behind the eight ball.