The Flames came into this weekend in grave danger of playing themselves out of the NHL’s bottom five with a pair of wins. If their goal was to maintain a strong draft position, well, mission accomplished. They dropped a 6-5 decision to the visiting Nashville Predators in a game that was uncharacteristically sloppy, uneven and featured 11 goals.
And weirdly, it may have been the lowest-event 11-goal game you ever did see, especially with stretches in the first and third that greatly resembled the prior low-event Preds/Flames wars of the past.
Things started off poorly for Calgary. Victor Barkley and Shea Weber both generated goals off slap-shots from scoring chance areas. On their first two shots on Joni Ortio. Within one minute. The Flames clawed back and, after drawing a late-period power-play, Kris Russell rifled home a goal off a nice passing play to make it 2-1 heading into the intermission. Calgary led in shots 9-6, attempts 22-12 and face-offs 11-10.
The second period was crazy. If you liked goals, it had goals. Many, many goals. And fairly iffy defensive play, and sub-par goaltending. Patric Hornqvist beat out Mark Giordano’s defensive coverage and tipped in a cross-ice pass to make it 3-1 Nashville. Paul Byron caused a turnover in the Nashville zone; Kris Russell then fed it to Mike Cammalleri, who one-timed his 21st goal of the year to make it 3-2. Mark Giordano tied up the game with a slapper from the point (that was tipped by Jiri Hudler) to make it 3-3. All good, right? Nope. Victor Stalberg ended Joni Ortio’s night with a wrap-around that made it 4-3. Not to feel left out, the Predators pulled Pekke Rinne after he got caught out of a position as Lance Bouma fed Mikael Backlund for Backlund’s 18th of the year to make it 4-4. The goalies to end the period were Joey MacDonald and Carter Hutton. It was that kind of a period. Calgary led in shots 10-9, shot attempts were tied 15-15, and Nashville dominated the face-off dot 14-9.
The third period featured three goals and about an eight minute section with no scoring chances and a lot of perimeter play. Things were tight defensively and it looked headed to both overtime and a shootout…when the Flames lapsed in the D-zone – just like in the first – and the Preds scored twice in fairly rapid succession. Shea Weber scored on the PP to make it 5-4 and Matt Cullen got his first goal of the game (and his 4th point) to make it 6-4. But the Flames fired back (again), and this time it didn’t take them the whole period, as Cammalleri got his second of the game from an absolutely bizarre angle to make it 6-5. They pulled the goalie and pressed late, but couldn’t get the equalizer, and the club’s record in one-goal games dropped to 20-15-7. Calgary led in shots (10-7), attempts (18-11) and face-offs (10-9) in the final period.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Every time they got the game tied, they just couldn’t get over the hump. They played well enough to win, but their goaltending and defensive play was just bad enough for them to lose. Given how well they’ve played during the year, they were probably due for a game like this. Burn the tape, gang, and move on towards Edmonton tomorrow night.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Mikael Backlund. A goal, an assist, +3. 5 shots, 54% in the face-off circle.
Also, stick-tap to Paul Byron, who had zero points but was +3.
SUM IT UP
The Flames (28-35-7) now have 12 games left in the season. They’re now snugly ahead of the Islanders but behind the Carolina/Ottawa/Nashville trio, and sit in 26th place.
They visit the Oilers tomorrow evening up in Edmonton. Puck drop is 8pm MT on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.