The Calgary Flames had some really poor stretches of hockey Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which played a big part of them trailing 4-2 after two periods of play. They also had some very good spans of hockey, which was the main reason why they were able to force extra time with a pair of goals in the third period. In the end, a Steven Stamkos marker 30 seconds into overtime was the difference, with the Lightning prevailing 5-4.
The first period was an odd one, with Tampa Bay scoring on their only powerplay of the night at 5:11. With the puck down low, Teddy Purcell tried a pass out front from in behind the net, but it was cut off by bodies in front. Unfortunately, one of those bodies in front was Chris Butler, who deflected it off his torso and in for a 1-0 lead. While it seemed like the Lightning had the balance of play for most of the opening frame, it was Calgary winning the scoring chance battle, finishing 5-2 in their favour. With 33 seconds remaining in the period, the fourth line would go to work again, and this time would come away with a goal. After goaltender Mathieu Garon misplayed a soft shot, Tim Jackman pushed a nice pass to Matt Stajan in front snapping a 36 game goalless drought for him. Stajan’s first had things tied after 20.
Early on in the second, the Flames would score on a powerplay of their own, but not really. With a Dominic Moore penalty expiring, Jarome Iginla would take an Olli Jokinen pass in the slot to fire home his 12th of the season just as the penalized player stepped back on the ice. The even strength marker gave the Flames their first lead of the game and it lasted for just over eight minutes. At 10:10, a scramble in front eventually allowed Tom Pyatt to go upstairs for his third setting up the go ahead goal less than two minutes later. Ryan Malone took a Stamkos pass at 12:05 to fire home his seventh restoring Tampa’s one goal lead. With just 34 seconds to go in the middle frame, the Lightning lead would swell to two with Nate Thompson putting one off Butler on a two-on-one opportunity, giving them a 4-2 lead. Tampa ran the second period, coming away with a 13-5 edge in scoring chances and make Calgary pay for a poor stretch.
The third period saw things swing all the way back to the Flames, however. Outchancing the protecting Lightning 10-2 in the process, Calgary would tie the game starting with Rene Bourque’s tenth on the year just 58 seconds in. On a breakaway, Bourque would fan on his shot, scoring off the heel of his stick through Garon’s legs setting up a furious push to the finish. On their third powerplay of the night, they’d tie things on a pretty passing play started by Alex Tanguay. He would fire a slap pass to Jokinen at the left side of the net making it easy for Jokinen to cash his ninth on the year at 16:48 sending us to overtime.
The extra frame didn’t last long, with Stamkos taking an Eric Brewer pass 30 seconds in to win it with his 19th, sending the Flames to their second consecutive defeat. On the glass-half-full side, it gave the Flames points in eight of their last ten.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? It’d be easy to say "flip the coin in overtime" but when it comes down to it, Calgary’s second period was the real thing that sunk them. They put themselves in a spot where they had to expend a ton of energy just to get back in this one, and while they were successful, they couldn’t come all the way back. Once again, the Flames had an opportunity to control this game and didn’t.
Stajan got it last game as I thought he may never score again, so can’t give it to him tonight, so instead I’ll look to Alex Tanguay. I’ve really liked him lately and he’s done a good job on his line with Brendan Morrison and Rene Bourque. Tanguay finished with a point on this night and was on the ice for five scoring chances at even strength. I’ve really liked Tanguay over the last couple weeks.
Sum It Up
If the Flames are going to want to stay in the hunt for the rest of the season, they’re going to have to find ways to earn points/wins in games like these. They had a stinker of a second period and seemed to be down and out, but took advantage of a mediocre team to come back and tie it. No they don’t get the win, but there were some positives for the visitors who now take on Florida tomorrow night.