The Flames began their final big road trip of the season with a dull thud, losing 4-2 on the road to the Minnesota Wild. They kept the game relatively close through the first two periods by hook or crook – and via some epic goaltending from Karri Ramo. And Paul Byron returned from injury after missing 17 games, giving the Flames some new depth on the forward ranks.
But it just wasn’t enough, and the Wild pulled away in the final period.
Play was carried by the Wild in the majority of all three periods.
The Flames improbably opened the scoring, with Josh Jooris sniping one past Devan Dubnyk roughly six minutes into the game. Matt Dumba tied it mid-way through the period on the power-play – with Joe Colborne in the box – as Karri Ramo made the initial save but it just squeaked under his arm, down his pad, and was bonked in by Dumba on his way past Ramo. Shots were 13-6 for the Wild in the first.
Nobody scored in the second period, by the grace of Karri Ramo. The Wild generated 15 shots on Ramo, many of them quite scary chances, while the Flames put just 8 on Dubnyk, most of them late in the period when the Wild seemed to get a bit tuckered out from spending so much time in the Flames end of the rink.
The floodgates opened in the third period, though. Ramo gave up three goals on seven shots and was yanked. Thomas Vanek, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise scored in relatively rapid succession – three goals within about eight minutes. Jonas Hiller came in and made a single save in just over six minutes of ice-time. Markus Granlund scored late to make it 4-2. Shots were 10-8 Calgary in the third.
Not a great start to the biggest road trip of this season.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Well, Minnesota’s a scary-good team. They’ve beaten the Flames every time they’ve faced them this year. Why? Because they’re deeper and spend a lot more time with the puck. When you put so many shots on a goaltender, eventually you get a couple in.
Even-strength shots were 33-24, and a lot of Calgary’s 24 shots were when the game got wacky late in the second and late in the third and Minnesota seemed to stop caring all that much (score effects!).
The Wild generated more chances and managed to bury a few. The Flames barely generated much and couldn’t bury enough of them to make the game all that competitive.
Bless him, Karri Ramo tried. He tried. Four goals on 35 shots isn’t amazing, but he did his level best to keep his team in it.
SUM IT UP
The Flames lost. They play again on Sunday afternoon against Nashville at 3pm MT. Their record drops to 40-28-7 after 75 games. They have 7 games left.
They need wins by any means necessary.