The Calgary Flames, having lost in 16 previous visits to Anaheim’s Honda Center, headed back to the O.C. with visions of victory in their head. However, a sub-par start to the game put the Flames behind the proverbial eight-ball and the visitors left Disneyland without their prize once again.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, as the club ended up playing a pretty solid game, albeit for 45 minutes.
The first period was mostly Ducks. And by that, I mean, it was almost entirely Ducks until Tim Jackman interjected himself into the game (and then out of the game).
The Flames spent a lot of time hemmed into their own zone early, including a stretch where Monahan, Baertschi, Hudler, Butler and O’Brien were stuck in the defensive end for an entire shift. The Ducks finally capitalized on all this pressure when Ryan Getzlaf took advantage of a small gap in coverage by Lee Stempniak to find Dustin Penner at the side of the net to go up 1-0. It was a beautiful pass, but a play Stempniak probably wants back.
The Ducks scored again a little while later, with Kyle Palmieri stealing the puck from Chris Butler – who attempted a clearing pass to Lee Stempniak that went off a leg or a stick and bounced back towards the Flames zone – and used Shane O’Brien to screen Joey MacDonald. This put Anaheim firmly in the driver’s seat at 2-0.
Tim Jackman was tossed from the game with about five minutes left in the first after butt-ending Sami Vantanen in the chest while going for a line change. As per the NHL rulebook, a butt-ending penalty calls for five and a game. While you’d expect this to sink the Flames entirely, their penalty kill was energized and a wonky Chris Butler clearing attempted ended up on the stick of Lee Stempniak, who took the puck in on a breakaway and beat Victor Fasth to bring the Flames within one. The Ducks out-chanced the Flames 7-3, out-shot them 10-7 and out-Corsied them 24-12 in the first. Anaheim also had a disallowed goal late, which was probably legitmate but stricken by a quick whistle.
The Flames generally carried the pace of the game from then on out, sometimes utilizing a more defensive posture, sometimes driving towards the net. They weren’t able to score in the second period, as passes in the offensive zone appeared to take weird bounces and their power-play just couldn’t get going at all. Late in the period, the Ducks made them pay for their lack of execution. T.J. Brodie coughed the puck up on the neutral-zone boards on an attempted pinch play, allowing Jacob Silfverberg to set up Teemu Selanne for a break-away goal to put the Ducks up 3-1. The Flames out-chanced the Ducks 7-5, out-shot them 11-8 and out-Corsied them 16-14 in the second.
The third period continued the push for the Flames. Coach Bob Hartley, working with a short bench, completely changed up his lines. That approach paid dividends early on, as the Flames held in an attempted clearing pass by the Ducks, leading to a Kris Russell point shot that was neatly tipped into the net by Jiri Hudler, bringing the Flames back within one for the second time (Joe Colborne got an assist!)
The Flames continued to press hard, trailing by a single goal. They pulled the goaltender late but just did not have enough in the tank (or on the scoreclock) to tie it up. The Flames out-shot the Ducks 17-4, out-Corsied them 29-9 and out-chanced them 10-1. Nevertheless, the Flames suffered their first regulation loss in 2013-14 and their 17th consecutive defeat in Anaheim.
FLAME OF THE GAME
Mikael Backlund had an excellent game, despite not putting up any points. He played 21:36 (only Hudler and Stempniak played more), had a team-high five shots and was a noticable presence all night. The only negative may be his awful 37% winning percentage in the face-off dot.
Honourable mentions to Sven Baertschi (for maybe his best three-zone game ever), Ben Street (53% in the face-off dot) and Mark Giordano (for rushing back to prevent an empty-netter late).
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Their first 15 minutes were just terrible. After the Jackman penalty, though, they smartened up and basically took the game over. Had they played better in the first 15, there’s no way they would’ve lost.
Their power-play was also just not very good. They had four man advantages and not only couldn’t create any offense, but they arguably had more offensive pressure on their penalty-kill (and they scored a short-handed goal). The Ducks had four shots on goal on Calgary’s four power-plays, while the Flames could only produce six. That’s not a great sign.
Lastly, their puck luck appeared to diminish from previous games. They didn’t get the bounces, and the bounces they did get they couldn’t capitalize on. Over an 82-game season, you’ll have a few games where things just don’t go your way. This was one of them.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
SUM IT UP
One streak ended, another streak continued. Calgary continues to be snake-bit in Orange County, but their undefeated (in regulation) streak has been extinguished.
They’re back in action on Saturday in the Shark Tank. Let’s hope they play more like they did in the third and less like they did in the first, because the San Jose Sharks are legit-undefeated (forget the "regulation" stuff) and quite the good hockey team. Saturday’s contest is the 8pm game on Hockey Night in Canada.