The Calgary Flames lost tonight by a 4-0 score to the New York Islanders in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
The Flames were decent early and pretty good in the first half of the second period. However, the team never found the energy level they found in their win at home against Detroit. You have to hold a team accountable to their wins, and Calgary lacked compete, execution and really seemed to fall apart once they got down by a couple of goals.
The result? They fly to Ottawa for their 10th game of the season with a woeful 2-7-0 record through their first nine games.
The Flames played a decent first period, all-told. Granted, they wasted an late-period power-play by basically failing to gain the zone for two minutes, but at even-strength they were competitive and they challenged Jaroslav Halak a couple times. Nobody scored. Shots were 14-8 for the Islanders (who also had a 29-18 edge in shot attempts and a 11-7 edge in face-offs), but the Flames never seemed overwhelmed.
The second period was basically two periods. In the first nine minutes or so, the Flames were dangerous. They got the puck deep. They kept it in. They wore down the Islanders. They failed to bury chances, and squandered an early power-play – to be fair, the Isles’ penalty kill kept them to the outside rather effectively. Then, the dam burst. Brandon Bollig took a dumb offensive zone penalty, but the Flames killed it off. Right after that kill, Dougie Hamilton took another dumb penalty – this one a careless puck-over-glass call. The Isles hemmed Calgary in for the entire two minutes and scored late, as Mikhail Grabovski got a tap-in through a gap in defensive coverage to make it 1-0. Shots were 10-10 in the second, with the Isles holding a slim lead in shot attempts (22-18) and the Flames a slim lead in face-offs (12-9).
The wheels fell off in the third. The Flames couldn’t get the puck deep and really struggled to get the puck out of their zone with any speed. And their goaltending, which had been strong, hurt them five minutes in; Frans Nielsen put a high wrister at Joni Ortio, who miffed it and it went in. Cal Clutterbuck and Nielsen (again) added goals, but the Flames really lacked much push-back after that aside from a single lengthy foray into the Islanders zone. Shots were 11-11 in the third, but a lot of that was score effect, and a lot of the shots were from a distance. The Flames had 24 shot attempts in the final frame and only 11 made it through. 11 of the Isles’ 15 attempts hit the net in the third, which made the difference.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
You know, the usual.
Defensive zone coverage wasn’t great, especially in the third. They continue to be too cute in the offensive zone and make too many passes. They weren’t great at face-offs. Not enough of their shots made it to the net. Not enough of their passes found their intended recipient. And they failed to take advantage of their power-play opportunities. And in a game where they didn’t score any goals, they created a situation where a lapse by their netminder basically shattered the team’s confidence early in the third. It’s hard to win games without run support.
Let’s go with Mark Giordano. The Flames captain was hustling tonight, despite the loss, authoring eight shot attempts (tops on the team) and eating up 25:26 of ice-time.
Honourable mention to Joni Ortio: the second goal is one he definitely wants back, as he whiffed on a high wrister, but the team’s defensive coverage didn’t do him any favours and he held them in it until the dam burst. He made 31 saves in his first start of the season.
The Flames head to Ottawa for the final game of their road trip when they face the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.