Fresh off a wild and wooly 7-4 win over the surging Dallas Stars, your Calgary Flames hoped to continue that momentum against the St. Louis Blues. Unfortunately, a tremendously bad (and one-sided) first 25 minutes of the hockey game sunk that plan.
On the night after Valentine’s Day, the Flames got lit up in the first period – with two goals apiece spoiling both the start of Leland Irving and the debut of Joey “MacBackup” MacDonald. The club got their feet moving and their mojo working in the second and third periods, but just could not bury the biscuit and fell by a 5-2 score.
The night began with the promise of a goaltending duel between AHL stand-outs Leland Irving (of the Abbotsford Heat) and Jake Allen (of the Peoria Rivermen). Within a few minutes, that proved to be a false premise.
The Blues scored 88 seconds into the game, with Jaden Schwartz potting one past Irving on an awful clearing attempt by Dennis Wideman. A few minutes (and a couple shots) later, Patrick Berglund put one past Irving and Flames head coach Bob Hartley yanked his starter in favour of the newly-acquired Joey MacDonald. Surely the veteran back-up could calm things down?
Nope. The Blues scored twice more in the first, leading 4-0 on 12 shots after 20 minutes. The Flames were out-shot 12-8 and out-chanced 6-3 in the opening stanza. T.J. Brodie had a great chance in the first on a wide-open feed, but Jake Allen robbed him with his stick in an amazing, amazing save.
The Flames were penned in a bit in their own end in the second period, then gradually woke up. St. Louis began to sit back with a 4-goal lead and allowed the Flames to get back into the proceedings a tad. They out-shot the Blues 15-5 in the second and narrowly out-chanced them 7-6, but failed to bury all but one of their opportunities. Dennis Wideman scored on the power-play with a few minutes left in the second to put the Flames on the board.
The third period was more even-keeled. The Blues and Flames went back and forth, with Calgary getting more of the chances early but, sadly, failing to capitalize. Curtis Glencross brought the Flames within two on an excellent pass from Jarome Iginla two minutes into the second. Could the Flames get closer? Nope. Blake Comeau missed a yawning cage with Allen sprawling to the side of the net. Soon after, the Blues got on the power-play and David Perron buried his second marker of the night to put St. Louis up by a 5-2 score and, sadly, that’s how things ended.
Calgary out-shot St. Louis 9-8 in the third (and 32-25 in the game), but the Blues out-chanced them 6-5 in the third (and 18-15 overall). The Flames edged the Blues in the face-off circle by a 27-25 margin.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Well, they had an awful first period and made both of their goaltenders look terrible. Neither goalie got any defensive (or offensive) support and Dennis Wideman had easily his worst period as a Calgary Flame.
It’s hard to pin this loss on either or the goalies (although the second Perron goal was a wide-open shot from the blueline) but in games like this, when your team is running around like fools in the first period, a good goalie has to bail his team out. Both Irving and MacDonald had the chance to be that guy in the first period, and didn’t. Not sure where the Flames go from here in terms of netminders.
Beyond that, it was a game of chances and the Flames had truly awful luck in failing to bury them. Blake Comeau and T.J. Brodie will have nightmares about the wide-open nets they failed to score on.
Curtis Glencross showed a bit of spark, for a team that drastically needed some. He led the Flames with 5 shots, had a pair of hits and scored his 100th career NHL marker to bring the Flames some life.
SUM IT UP
The Flames lost on Friday night. They drop to 4-5-3 on the second and, at the time of this writing, four points outside of a playoff spot. Granted, they’ve got games in hand on basically the entire league, but they’re not making it easy on themselves. They have been occasionally good, occasionally bad, but sadly inconsistent from game-to-game (and within games). And you’ve got to believe that the Flames are as frustrated as their fans are after a quarter of the regular season has come and gone.
Regardless, the club wil fly out tomorrow to the American southwest. On Sunday they visit the Dallas Stars and then they hit up Phoenix to play the Coyotes on Monday. And they’ll have to learn to forget awful performances like they had in their first period tonight, as they need to re-group and try to put together some points.
A quarter of the season has elapsed and the clock is ticking on getting into the playoff picture.