Holding 3-0 and 4-3 leads in another hugely important game should usually translate to two points. It did translate to a single point on Saturday night, but the story will likely be another coughed up advantage for the Calgary Flames, leading to a 5-4 shootout loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Thanks to the out of town scoreboard, the Flames lost ground on most of their Western Conference playoff foes.
Ilya Ilya Ilya! Oi oi oi! That was the story of the first period, as some loose Flyers defense and some looser Flyers goaltending had the Flames up 2-0 early on. It started on a Calgary powerplay with Mark Giordano doing a nice job of jumping to keep a puck in at the blueline before setting himself and wiring a knuckleball high on Ilya Bryzgalov, giving Calgary a 1-0 lead at the 3:45 mark. The Flyers goalie might be allowed the benefit of the doubt, but at 5:17, maybe not. While the Philly D wasn’t great either in allowing Matt Stajan to walk into the slot, he still got away a muffin of a shot slipping by Bryzgalov for Stajan’s second in as many games. Calgary wasn’t bad in the first, but the opening frame started the familiar theme of being outshot and outchanced; scoring chances were 8-6 in favor of the visitors.
The second period saw a season first for the Flames as they were killing another penalty; Alex Tanguay did a nice job of stripping an opponent of the puck and eventually feeding Tom Kostopoulos. His fourth of the season was also good for Calgary’s first shorthanded goal of the season and a 3-0 lead at the 12:55 mark. And then the onslaught. Just under three minutes later, Jakub Voracek took advantage of a soft Derek Smith play at the defensive blueline and beat Miikka Kiprusoff for his 11th on the year. Then with 34 seconds remaining in the middle frame, Braydon Coburn’s shot would deflect off Scott Hannan in front, and after 40 the Flyers were within one.
Philadelphia would tie the game at 7:35 thanks to a 5-on-3 man advantage (questionable at that), and it was Scott Hartnell planting his behind squarely in front of Kiprusoff. Kimmo Timonen’s point shot would deflect off Hartnell for his 29th on the year and just like that, we’ve got a 3-3 game. But don’t fear, Alex Tanguay is here! With a breakaway opportunity, he’d be slashed (lightly) by Pavel Kubina at 10:49 and for the second time in two weeks, we got to see a home penalty shot for the Flames. Tanguay would make it look easy and his ninth had Calgary up by a goal once again. But less than two minutes later, it was Hartnell again with an in-front deflection, this time tipping home a Nicklas Grossman shot and htis game would finish 4-4 in regulation.
The Flyers had a glorious chance to win the game in overtime, as Andrej Meszaros put a puck wide on a gorgeous feed from Claude Giroux with less than a second to go, so off to a shootout we’d go for a second consecutive night. Mike Cammalleri would score following unsuccessful tries from Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay, putting the pressure on Giroux. Philly’s leading scorer made it look easy to extend the shootout, and after Jarome Iginla and Wayne Simmonds would fail to score, Bryzgalov got a tad lucky on Curtis Glencross’s try, as the Calgary shooter would ring it off the crossbar. Matt Read would win it on Philly’s fifth shot, giving the visitors a 5-4 win.
One Good Reason…
…the Flames lost? Well, on this night, they were lucky to get to a shootout, and that was thanks to a severe lack of time in the offensive zone. Calgary was outchanced 25-14, including 17-11 at even strength, and the top line was absolutely hammered once again. The trio of Iginla, Jokinen, and Glencross were soundly beaten by the Giroux line all night long, including getting outshot 18-7 in their matchup. With a team lacking depth, that’s going to do you in most nights.
Bouma and Kostopoulos could be good choices, but I’m going to lean to Matt Stajan, just because it’s probably my only chance this year to give him the nod. He has goals in consecutive games (!!) and has been an effective cog on a pretty effective trio the last few games. He was 62% in the faceoff circle and ended up playing over 13 minutes on the night.
Sum It Up
The Flames are 5-1-5 in the month of February, which ain’t too shabby when you look at the results themselves. But this string of finding ways to get points will end eventually if Calgary doesn’t start to find more time in the offensive zone. I just don’t know how realistic a wish that really is. They’ve got the trade deadline on Monday and there’s a lot of talk it might be busy one for this team; they’ve got the Blues on Monday night.