When you’re beaten down 8-1, like the Stars were in their own barn, you have to know they were going to come out looking to take out all their frustrations at the first available opportunity; in this case, your Calgary Flames.
Calgary wasn’t going to to get the benefit of facing the Stars’ back up tonight, so if they wanted two points out of this one tonight, they were going to have to beat Kari Lehtonen; and he’s no slouch.
Sometimes the NHL is a game of bounces. You hope when they come, you’re the team that reaps the benefits, and when the bounces don’t go your way… well, then you pray for a miracle.
As mentioned the Stars started the game looking to put the Flames away fast and early. In the first five minutes of the game, Dallas out-shot 6-0 and Joey MacBackup was forced to make more than one pivotal save to keep his team in it while they weathered the early storm.
By the time Calgary got their first shot.. it came on a power-play, by then the scoring chances were already 6-1 in Dallas’ favour. After managing just the single shot on goal, the Flames Giordano hauled down the Stars, Roussel on a break-away, meaning Calgary would face their first penalty shot of the season. Luckily Roussel would miss the net and we’d remain tied.
At 13:07 Eric Cole would get his second goal since being traded to Dallas. Not a great one as the pass was intended to go to the captain, Brendan Morrow, but instead would bank off of Derek Smith’s skate and go in passed MacDonald
The bounces would continue to go Dallas’ way. At 15:49, former Flame Eric Nystrom would also benefit from a gratuitous bounce as he would be in the right place at the right time to tap the puck into the empty net after the puck ping-ponged around in a broken play.
Trying to spark his team, Jarome Iginla would somehow find his way into a fight with Cody Eakin of all people. Not sure what fighting a rookie says to the guys but you take what’s given to you sometimes.
As a result of the early deficit, the Flames were pushed back on their heels and when that happens, this team has a tendency to start chasing the play and get the run-a-round in their own zone. Tonight would be no different and as the Stars started to throw the play around the perimeter of the offensive zone, they would wait for their chance. They wouldn’t have to wait to long as they would find a way to get the puck inside to Loui Eriksson, and with just under 2 minutes left in the first, it was 3-0 for the Stars.
So much for weathering the storm as the Stars out-shot Calgary 12-5, out-chanced them 12-3 and was ahead where it mattered most; on the scoreboard.
Many fans wondered why, after surrendering three goals in a little over five minutes, Joey MacDonald was still between the pipes for the Flames. Well at the mid-point of the period, he answered that question with just a phenomenal glove save off Brendan Morrow to keep the deficit at three. I wouldn’t say any of the first three were Joey’s fault as he was left with little back support and because of some of his saves, Dallas wasn’t completely running away with this one tonight.
Calgary would go back on the PP after Stajan was jumped entering the Stars zone. It would take less than 15 seconds for the Flames to get on the board as Jiri Hudler would notch his 6th of the year on nice re-direction on the point shot from TJ Brodie. With the goal on the board, it would give Calgary something to build on.
Dallas continued their pseudo parade to the penalty box, which was just fine for Calgary. With Benn in the box for hooking, the Flames would go back to work. Curtis Glencross, with his back to Lehtonen, would make a nifty tip through the Stars legs. Jay Bouwmeester would pick up the puck and with one dirty backhand flip of the puck, Calgary was within one of tying this one up.
Much better results for the Flames in the middle frame. They held their own in the face off circle (Backlund 71%), out-shot the Stars 9-6 and dominated the scoring chances 7-4. It was almost a shame the period had to end, as Calgary had all the momentum. Could they carry it into and through the third?
Instead of the Flames coming out in the third trying to take it to Dallas, they started rather tentatively; seeming to wait for their chances rather than trying to create them.
Five minutes in, Calgary would go back on the PP after Eric Nystrom was tagged for a blindside hit on Jiri Hudler. The PP got the boys back in this game, could it get them tied up? With no shots on the man advantage, Calgary would have to look elsewhere. Moments after the penalty ended, Glencross almost had the answer, almost.
Unfortunately after eight minutes or so of back and forth hockey, fortune would again smile on the Stars. After Wideman had his shot from the point blocked, Dallas would go back down the ice creating a three on two. On another broken play, the puck would bounce off the Flames defender and eventually land on the stick of Loui Eriksson, who would pot his second of the game over a spralled out MacDonald. Another bounce to go against your Flames.
With a two goal lead in the third, Dallas started their process of choking out the middle of the ice and only sending one man in deep; and time was running out for Calgary.
With 4:45 left, Alex Tanguay would again pull the Flames within one. Iginla with the quick poke to Cammalleri, caught the Stars sleeping as he sent the puck cross-ice. Tanguay would just stay onside, take the puck off the boards and with one quick dangle, slide the puck passed Lehtonen into the open goal. What tricks did the team have left in the bag for the last four minutes???
With the goalie pulled, the Flames threw everything short of the kitchen sink at Lehtonen, and they almost made it count… Almost.
Why The Flames Lost…
Because Calgary needed to weather the initial storm from a determined Dallas team, and was only able to last for the first half of the opening period.
Because once their initial line of defense cracked, the floodgates opened and the Stars were able to score three goals in five minutes.
Because despite the Flames being the team with MacBackup in, he played extremely well in this game, but the Flames weren’t able to provide him any support. In fact, during the first period, they flat out hung him out to dry on too many plays.
Because sometimes the game can be decided on a lucky bounce here or there. Tonight, not only did Calgary have a first period to forget, but karma made them pay dearly for it. It wasn’t just one bounce, but multiple. When you have those two factors put together, the outcome is mathematical; tonight that came by a 3-0 result.
I have to go with Joey tonight.
As bad as the first period was for your Calgary Flames, it could have been a lot, lot worse.
When the Flames were lost in their own zone and about to made look foolish, MacDonald was right there on several occasions to keep them somewhat still in the game.
I can’t find fault with MacDonald for the first period deficit either. Two of the first three were just bad bounces where once the puck settled down, it was right on the stick of a waiting Stars player and MacDonald was a man alone on an island.
He may not have been a factor in igniting the offense, but he made one hell of a save off Morrow to give his team a chance to get back into things instead of letting in the goal that would have pretty much deflated the team and sealed their fate tonight.
Sure, you may say that the Stars ended up getting the fourth one anyways, but it was another broken play that went against Calgary and I’m not faulting Mac on that one either.
Flames scoring chances:
Dallas scoring chances:
Scoring Chance Summary
|Home||1||17:28||Dallas tapped wide||24||38||60||6||33||32||10||15||16||26||44||35||5v5|
|Away||1||15:51||Stajan high slot||11||13||21||3||4||32||18||12||40||5||26||35||5v5|
|Away||1||13:45||TJ Brodie (PP)||20||72||3||4||32||10||20||40||4||7||35||4v5|
|Home||1||11:39||Rousell break away||20||60||72||6||33||32||18||22||20||5||26||35||5v5|
|Home||1||11:36||Rousell penalty shot||68||13||14||6||33||32||18||22||20||4||44||35||5v5|
|Home||1||5:34||Jagr faceoff dot||20||18||68||6||33||32||11||24||17||4||7||35||5v5|
|Home||1||4:12||Nystrom rebound goal||24||38||60||4||58||32||12||13||40||4||7||35||5v5|
|Home||2||18:12||Jagr high slot||11||68||10||6||43||32||11||24||17||5||26||35||5v5|
|Away||2||14:51||Comeau deep slot||20||18||68||43||58||32||11||24||17||5||26||35||5v5|
|Home||2||10:18||Cole slot (PP)||68||13||14||21||6||32||13||20||4||5||35||5v4|
|Home||2||10:08||Morrow slot (PP)||11||10||13||72||6||32||18||22||4||26||35||5v4|
|Away||2||8:31||Hudler tip goal (PP)||38||60||3||4||32||24||12||13||40||7||35||4v5|
|Away||2||6:46||Hudler rebound (PP)||24||38||3||4||32||24||12||13||40||7||35||4v5|
|Away||2||5:26||Bouwmeester backhand goal (PP)||24||38||3||4||32||24||12||13||40||7||35||4v5|
|Away||3||13:07||Glencross in close||68||13||14||3||4||32||18||17||20||4||44||35||5v5|
|Away||3||11:34||Giordano high slot||20||18||10||6||33||32||12||13||40||5||26||35||5v5|
|Away||3||4:47||Tanguay break away goal||11||10||72||3||4||32||12||13||40||5||26||35||5v5|
|Home||3||1:50||Cole partial break||13||14||21||6||33||32||12||13||40||4||44||35||5v5|
Home Team Player Summary
Away Player Scoring Summary
Home Team Period Summary Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Away Team Period Summary Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Sum it Up
The Flames power-play was almost enough to bail them out of another hole… almost.
In the end it all comes down to the fact that Calgary didn’t show up for the opening twenty minutes, and tonight they were pretty crucial minutes. We all knew that if the Flames could control the pace of the game and just grinf the Stars into making stupid mistakes, that they could win this one. We’ve seen it before, there was a precedent.
Calgary’s third line was far more superior to Dallas and the Stajan line again played very well. However, we all also knew that the Flames had a tendency towards the win one/two – lose one/two, and tonight put them right on schedule to lose.
If Calgary is serious about going on some kind of miracle run to make the playoffs, I’m not quite sure what they are waiting for. They have enough tough games down the road, many of them on the road. It’s not going to inspire any confidence with anyone, let alone the fans, that tonight was their seventh straight loss on the road.
This was a winnable game for them, but as Hartley said, the team "gave Dallas four goals tonight."
It’s going to be the same story on Thursday as the team travels to Nashville. Again, this is a team they just beat, they better beat them again. It’s hard to say Calgary is better than any of these teams, even when they face Columbus on Friday; after all they trail all these teams in the standings. However, if you are going to call yourself a playoff team then you need to beat those that should not be ahead of you.
Let’s see who shows up in Nashville. Someone tell Glencross to bring his cowboy hat, it can’t hurt, right?
Game time is 6:00 MST and can be seen/heard on SNET-W and the Fan 960.