Teams don’t win too many games where they get out-shot. Teams don’t win too many games where they don’t play a full 60 minutes. Teams don’t win too many games where they give up bad goals, especially when the games are low-scoring.
These factors collided tonight in the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, as the Calgary Flames had a good first period and then drifted. A solid game from the Jets and an ugly goal against Karri Ramo late spelled the third Flames loss of the season, as they drop to 1-3-0 on the season after a disappointing 3-1 loss in Winnipeg.
The Flames played a pretty even-keel first period, taking it to the Jets in various stages and actually generating shots off the rush. One of their offensive forays actually bore fruit, as a Sam Bennett wrap-around attempt bonked out in front and was buried by Mikael Backlund for a 1-0 lead. The Jets and Flames went back and forth a bit for the rest of the period, with the visitors leading in shots (11-8), the hosts leading in shot attempts slightly (19-16) and the Flames winning more face-offs (13-11). Not bad for a first period on the road.
The wheels began to fall off in the second. As they have in previous games, the Flames came out a bit flat. Because they’re good, the Jets pressed. Eventually, they broke through via a Bryan Little redirection goal to tie it up. The Flames couldn’t battle back, and basically just white-knuckled it until the intermission. Winnipeg led Calgary in everything: shots (9-4), attempts (19-15) and face-offs (11-8).
Calgary seemed content to white-knuckle it again in the third and hope they could pull out some punch-counterpunch, third period magic. Spoiler: It didn’t work. Despite standing on his head for much of the game, a Dustin Byfuglien “shot” – the puck drifted off his stick towards the net – bonked in off Ramo’s right pad as he didn’t seal it up against the goal post with 88 seconds left in regulation.
The Flames called for a coach’s challenge on a possible off-sides. It didn’t work. Blake Wheeler added an empty-netter. Winnipeg again led in shots (13-5), attempts (19-9) and face-offs (9-7).
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Winnipeg had the puck more often. Winnipeg did more with the puck. Winnipeg couldn’t really solve Ramo with good shots, so they just chucked whatever they could at him and something trickled through, really.
But to be blunt: Calgary lost because they weren’t nearly as good as Winnipeg. The Jets seemed to have a game plan and made tweaks to adjust. Calgary either didn’t have much of a plan or failed to execute it.
And again: not much offensive punch from the depth lines, and the power-play couldn’t generate much.
Mikael Backlund had a goal and managed to have the best face-off percentage for the Flames at 59%, so let’s go with him.
And let’s tip our hats to Karri Ramo. He’ll wear the goat horns tonight for letting that stinker in, but he also made 27 saves and had to flop around a lot because his defense let a lot of good chances get at him.
Connor McDavid makes his Battle of Alberta debut tomorrow evening as part of Hockey Night in Canada. The 0-4 Edmonton Oilers visit the 1-3 Calgary Flames in a clash of teams who really want to accumulate some points.