The last time the Calgary Flames won a hockey game in Buffalo remains March of 1996 after falling 2-1 to the Sabres on Friday night. The score could have been a whole lot more lopsided if not for the outstanding performance of Henrik Karlsson between the Calgary pipes. He remains winless on the year and Calgary drops back a game below .500 after toppling the Red Wings the night prior.
A fairly cautious start to the first period slowly tilted the way of the hosts as they started taking advantage of the Flames through the neutral zone and started racking up the scoring chances. They’d score at 7:59 thanks to a Drew Stafford one timer shot as he was left all alone high of the left circle and counted his fourth of the season. Jarome Iginla was way out of the play, allowing Stafford to launch a shot uncontested for a 1-0 Buffalo lead after one. Scoring chances were 15-5 in favour of the Sabres in the opening frame, as they were able to rack things up with three consecutive powerplay opportunities.
The second period saw Calgary have their best extended opportunity to tie the game thanks to a 69 (heh) second 5-on-3 powerplay. The Flames would have a few opportunities, including an Anton Babchuk crossbar, but they came away without the equalizer and trailed by the same score heading to the third period. Buffalo still ran things 5-on-5 though, outchancing the Flames 7-3 when things were even.
The Sabres swelled their lead early in the third period thanks to Nathan Gerbe, who was the recipient of a tipped pass. All alone at the right side of the net, he tapped home his third at 1:45 for a lead that looked pretty steep at two goals. However, a nice shift off a faceoff win at 5:45 saw the Flames get back within one, as Alex Tanguay deftly tipped a soft Jay Bouwmeester point shot for his third of the season. Calgary generated a few more chances after that, but Buffalo defended fairly well for the remainder of the period and came away with a 2-1 win, their seventh of the season.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Because much of what they did the night before wasn’t on display against Buffalo. They allowed far too many shots and chances against and were fairly punchless offensively for most of the night. As a result, Buffalo controlled the majority of this hockey game, and a third period push by Calgary wasn’t going to get the job done. The Flames won against the Red Wings because they were frustrating to play against defensively. They were not that tonight.
No brainer on this one, he was one of the few Flames that came to play tonight…Henrik Karlsson. Making 42 saves on 44 Buffalo shots, the Calgary Tower was out of his tree for much of the night, making numerous saves on ten bell Sabres opportunities. It was by far his best performance this season and likely to date in the NHL, and was probably Calgary’s best goaltending performance this season. Honorable mention to Matt Stajan, Tim Jackman, and Tom Kostopoulos as they were the only line to finish in the plus with scoring chances when it was all said and done.
Sum It Up
We talked about needing the Flames to perform similar to how they did one night earlier in Detroit. That wasn’t the case against a beatable Sabres team, but when Calgary doesn’t do what they do best, they aren’t that difficult to beat. The Flames wasted a sterling performance from their backup goaltender and fall back below the .500 mark.