The Calgary Flames remain winless after a sometimes-ugly, sometimes-exciting 5-4 home loss against the Anaheim Ducks (of Anaheim).
The contest was a microcosm of the entire season to date – both games of it. Jarome Iginla? One point (an assist), but largely invisible. The third line of Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan and Roman Horak? Full of pep. The Flames? Tremendously inconsistent and unable to finish most of their chances.
The game started off the way Sunday’s ended – with the Flames giving up a goal, just 1:06 in. Then Calgary attempted to take over and actually exerted some strong pressure, particularly from the Stempniak line.
Then five minutes after their first goal against, the Flames allowed another goal – created by a Daniel Winnick rushing in between Mark Giordano and Jay Bouwmeester – and just the second goal on five shots. The third line created more pressure and chances, but once again, five minutes after the Ducks went up 2-0, they went up 3-0.
On the sixth shot of the game, half-way through the period.
Once again Daniel Winnick victimized the Flames, albeit with a butt-ugly goal that glanced off a defender, took another weird bounce and went past Miikka Kiprusoff.
But despite having a great opportunity to pack it in, the Flames fought back. The Ducks took a penalty and Curtis Glencross tipped a Dennis Wideman shot past Jonas Hiller to cut the deficit to 3-1. A few minutes later, Alex Tanguay scored on a broken play from the slot, bringing the Flames to 3-2. A dumb interference penalty to Bryan Allen gave Calgary a power-play to open the second period, allowing Glencross to tip his second power-play marker of the game/year past Hiller to tie the game.
From there, the Flames absolutely dominated the second period. They out-shot the Ducks 14-3 on the whole and controlled the pace of play. But despite a series of strong chances (a couple by Sven Baertschi and the rest primarily from the Stempniak/Stajan/Horak line), the Flames could not take the lead.
And that inability to finish those chances came back to bite them, as some sustained pressure by the top line led to a giveaway in the offensive one – Tanguay passed it into the Anaheim slot, where Andrew Cogliano intercepted it – and Daniel Winnick scored his second to put the Ducks on top for good. The Ducks went up 5-3 later on via a Saku Koivu goal and while the Flames got back within one after a gorgeous breakaway goal from Lee Stempnak (via a T.J. Brodie pass), that was as close as they could get.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Well, they scored four times. That should be enough goal support to win. One of the goals Kiprusoff let in was a bit of a softie, but he can hardly be blamed on the other four. The Flames defense wasn’t nearly as good as it should’ve been. The six blueliners each had a giveaway and the team had a dozen overall. That’s way too many. And let’s not forget that awful first period.
To be perfectly honest, three out of team’s four lines drove the play fairly well, despite not really winning a heck of a lot of face-offs. In fact, there was one sequence where the Baertschi, Backlund and Cammalleri line had possession so sewn up in the offensive zone that both defensemen were able to go for a line change (at the same time). At another sequence, Stajan lost a face-off in the offensive zone but his line hustled enough in the offensive zone to actually steal back the puck and pin the defense in their own zone.
But could they finish the chances that those opportunities created?
In an 82-game season, the hockey gods tend to even things out. Nobody’s sure how much that will come to bear in a 48-game season, though, and that’s a factor that may come back to haunt the Flames when it’s all said and done.