(photo courtesy of Mark Anderson/andertoons.com)
With just one win to show for their road trip, the Flames headed into the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado on Friday night to renew acquaintances with the Colorado Avalanche, arguably hockey’s hottest team. After making a trade to bolster their blueline, the Flames hit the ice to prove that the team has what it takes to beat good teams on the road.
Despite dominating play over the second and third periods, they learned a lesson about slow starts on the road.
The Flames started off slow on the road, with the Avalanche carrying play for the first chunk of the first period. The game appeared to change momentum via a fight between Flames pugilist Brian McGrattan and Patrick Bordeleau. The Flames had more jump immediately after the bout, then got scored on. A tremendous diving defensive play by Kris Russell was wasted, as the team failed to establish any coverage after he broke up Matt Duchene’s breakaway, and Ryan O’Reilly one-timed a shot past Karri Ramo to put the Avs up 1-0. The Flames carried the play for much of the rest of the period, but just couldn’t capitalize. Shots were even in the first at 8-8. Calgary led in Corsi events 19-6 and face-offs 12-9, but Colorado led in scoring chances 5-3 and goals scored 1-0.
The Flames got into some penalty trouble early in the second – with David Jones having a late first-period penalty carry over into the second. Then Mikael Backlund took a (borderline) holding call on the PK. With 11 seconds to kill a 5-on-3, the Flames lost a face-off and got scored on within nine seconds. Paul Statsny made it 2-0 Colorado. The penalty trouble continued, with the Flames getting int another 5-on-3, which converted into a 4-on-4 given some time and a Colorado penalty. Once things finally got settled out and the penalty boxes emptied, the Flames engaged their fore-check and made a push. The architects of the comeback were the brand-new trio of Mikael Backlund, Jiri Hudler and Mike Cammalleri. A nice tic-tac-toe passing play from Hudler at the point to Backlund beside the net to Cammalleri in the low slot led to a one-timer goal for #13, making it 2-1 Colorado.
The Avalanche pushed back and with the Flames playing a bit casual in their own zone, Nathan MacKinnon passed from behind the red line and found John Mitchell wide-open in the slot, and Mitchell buried it to re-establish Colorado’s two-goal lead. The Flames continued to push back, though. Jean-Sebastien Giguere mis-played the puck and the aforementioned Cammalleri line was all over it. The trio cycled the puck behind the net, with Backlund feeding Hudler who fed Cammalleri, who again one-timed it past Giguere to make it a one-goal game once more to close the second period. The Flames out-shot Colorado 14-11, out-Corsied them 26-24 and out-chanced them 10-2, but were beaten in the face-off circle 12-8.
The third period was pretty entertaining, with each team trying long outlet passes and both clubs seemingly alternating hemming their opposition in their own zone. The Flames came close, including several chances generated by Max Reinhart’s line (with Sean Monahan and Sven Baertschi) and the excellent Cammalleri line. With the net empty and the Flames pressing for a tying goal, the puck careened off the heel of Dennis Wideman’s stick…to Matt Duchene, who potted an empty-netter from center ice to close out the game 4-2 for Colorado. Calgary out-shot Colorado 10-8 in the third, also out-Corsing them 24-14, edging them in face-offs 9-6 and scoring chances 6-3. But Colorado was able to keep Calgary’s streaking forwards to the outside, which made the difference.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
The Flames came out slow and let Colorado get out in front. The Avalanche are undefeated when they score first and have become very skilled and playing with a lead. In addition, when Calgary pressured them throughout the second and third, the Avs were seemingly content to let the Flames cycle the puck around the outside and use their size to box them out of the slot. The Flames didn’t generate a lot of chances from the slot, which was probably the difference in the game.
Oh, and they still haven’t scored a power-play goal since Mark Giordano got hurt.
Mike Cammalleri was so, so good tonight. 20:52 in ice-time, 7 shots, 2 shots that got blocked and 1 that missed the net. He also scored twice.
Honourable mention to Max Reinhart, who was superb in the third period, winning board battles, sliding past checks and looking every bit his father’s son.
|Home||2||18:52||Stastny goal PP||6||26||29||35||61||92||7||18||31||44||5v3|
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
SUM IT UP
Despite a great effort tonight, the Flames head home with just two points on their four-game road trip and bring a 6-9-2 record home with them. They probably deserve a better record with their strong play in the majority of their games.
Ladislav Smid joins the team tomorrow and practices on Sunday. The Flames are in action next on Tuesday when they host the San Jose Sharks at the Saddledome. The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and the Fan 960.