There’s at least one thing you can say about this iteration of the Calgary Flames so far – they keep things entertaining. For the third time in three games, the contest was decided by one goal and for the second time in the last two the contest needed OT to settle things.
The bad news is, the Flames were on the wrong side of the box score. The good news is, they probably deserved better.
Vancouver was the first team to score in the first thanks to David Booth tip, but the Flames were the better team from start to finish in the opening frame. Calgary dominated possession and had Vancouver back on their heels for a majority of the initial 20 minutes, culminating in a Mark Giordano snipe from the high slot with about five minutes left. The goal marked Giordano’s team leading 4th point.
The second started much like the first, with the Flames hemming the Canucks in their end for long stretches. Vancouver also took a number of penalties and it was only Eddie Lack’s heroics that kept things close, particularly a point blank stop off of Dennis Wideman on a PP. The Flames nevertheless managed to grab a lead when Jiri Hudler spotted Mikael Backlund and sprung him on a break away. Backlund deposited a backhand deke and the Flames looked like they were well on their way to securing the victory.
Sean Monahan extended the lead early in the third by firing a shot through the five hole on a 2on1.Going down by two seemed to spurn Calgary’s opponents, who were largely dormant up until that point in the game. Vancouver poured on the pressure for the rest of the period, reeling off eight strahgt scoring chances, converting on three of them to regain the lead. On the first, a lackadasical Curtis Glencross pass behind the net was picked off by a Sedin and centered to a wide open Janik Hansen. On the second, a hopelessly overmatched Brian McGrattan found his clearing pass intercepted by the other Sedin, resulting in a 2on1 Mike Santorelli goal. Tough guy Dale Weise finished up the come back after beating both Sean Monahan and Shane O’Brien to the net and depositing a Richardson pass.
The Flames managed to right the ship long enough to mount a counter-attack in the final two minutes. After a Hudler shot from the top of the circle, a goal mouth scramble resulted in David Jones, Kevin Bieksa and the puck piling into the net. The goal was reviewed, but stood and Jones was awarded the goal.
The OT featured a healthy does of the Sedins, but it was Mike Santorelli scoring off another 2on1 rush, this one caused by a missed Dennis Wideman hip check (he had a good game otherwise).
Flame of the Game
Let’s go with Mikael Backlund. He played over 21 minutes, scored a go ahead goal and was generally solid all over the ice. He also managed to finish the night +1 even though the Flames gave up five goals.
Why the Flames Lost
Because they made a handful of key errors in the third period that the Canucks capitalized on. One of those blunders belongs to Hartley himself because he found his enforcer on the ice with some of the opposition’s best players in the third period with a one goal lead. That’s a fairly elementary mistake that shouldn’t be happening, especially in your home building.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Sum it up
Calgary probably deserved better tonight. They were the superior team for the first 45 minutes or so and probably could have been well ahead except for some highlight reel saves by Lack. If Glencross bears down on an own-zone pass and if Hartley doesn’t play a 5 minute/night player while protecting a lead in the third period, Calgary wins this one convincingly.
Regardless, it was a generally a strong effort against a quality opponent. The Flames have only won one of their first three games, but they aren’t looking like the sort of automatic "W" most folks assumed they’d be heading into the season.
Next up: The Montreal Canadiens visit the Dome on Wednesday. Game time 6pm.