The Calgary Flames returned home from their mega-trip on Tuesday evening, hoping to gain their first taste of victory on home ice. Despite some strong goaltending, some slick scoring and keeping the dangerous Tampa Bay Lightning at bay for the bulk of the game, they dropped a 2-1 overtime decision at the Saddledome.
They got a point, which is pretty okay I suppose, but after playing as well as they did for 57 minutes, they have to be disappointed with the loss.
The Flames spent a LOT of time in their own zone in the first period, but generally did a good job keeping the Stamkos line to the outside. The Lightning seemed to be pressing a bit too much, particularly in the first, and a lot of passes ended up just a bit behind or in front of where they were supposed to go. Thus, despite some nice pressure, the visitors generated very little in terms of great chances in the first. Nobody scored and the Flames held a narrow edge in shots (8-5) and shot attempts (16-12), while the Lightning led in face-offs by a 8-4 margin. Mark Giordano hit Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov in open ice – from behind and the side, so it was a bit of a blind-side hit, leading to a fight with J.T. Brown
The home side seemed to have more confidence and used their feet a bit more in the second, something that generated a pair of power-plays. Despite pushing a bit more in the second, the Flames didn’t generate a lot and the game at times devolved to some fun punch/counter-punch hockey. In fact, there were barely any whistles for the period, basically extending Giordano’s fighting major to about ten minutes. Like the first, we closed out the second with zero goals. Shots were even at 7-7, while Tampa held an edge in shot attempts (18-13) and face-off wins (9-8).
We actually had goal-scoring in the third, as Johnny Gaudreau fed a pinching Dennis Wideman on the power-play (the period began with 1:26 held over from a late Tampa penalty) to beat Evgeni Nabokov and put Calgary up 1-0. Gaudreau tumbled into the boards awkwardly and briefly left the game, but he did return. Matt Stajan blocked a shot in the second frame, left briefly and also returned. The Flames basically tried to replicate the pace of the Winnipeg third period – a lot of dump-ins and skating around – but the Lightning pressed late. Mason Raymond had a chance to make it 2-0, but the puck clanged off the post, and the Lightning hit the post on the subsequent rush back to the Flames end. The Flames had a break-down in coverage, which allowed Jason Garrison to put it on net and Valtteri Filppula to knock the puck in with 2:16 remaining to tie it up. Shots were 8-6 for Tampa, shot attempts were 15-9 for Tampa, and face-off wins were 11-10 for Tampa. A slight improvement in any of those metrics probably gets Calgary another point.
Anyhoo, off to overtime, where again it was end-to-end. And again, the Lightning press and score, when Ondrej Palat put the puck past Ramo. Shots were 3-1 Tampa in OT, shot attempts were 4-4, and the Flames actually won both face-offs. It didn’t matter, though, and they ended up with a single point for the OT loss.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
They had some giveaways and breakdowns late in the game that really hurt them. They had a few earlier-on, but they didn’t hurt them (because of weird off-sides for the Lightning and some nice saves from Karri Ramo). And they weren’t able to bury all of their chances like they did on the road.
Karri Ramo gets it for being sharp late and absolutely robbing Jonathan Drouin in OT. A stick-tap to Johnny Gaudreau for another strong offensive game (he was shaky in his own end) and Josh Jooris for playing the tough minutes. The minus-2 rating he amassed tonight wasn’t a reflection of his total game.
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SUM IT UP
The Flames are now 4-3-1, which is still decent when you consider where they were supposed to be right now. The locals are off tomorrow entirely, then dust themselves off and hope to have a better effort on Thursday night when the lowly Carolina Hurricanes visit the Saddledome.
That game is 7pm MT and airs on Sportsnet Flames (and Sportsnet 960 The Fan as always).