The Calgary Flames saw their home winning streak come to a crashing halt this evening at the Scotiabank Saddledome, as the Anaheim Ducks clogged up the neutral zone and disrupted the stretch pass – a lot – en route to a 1-0 win.
The Flames never seemed to get out of the starting blocks in this one, and by the time they finally got their legs moving and started generating chances, it was late in the third period and their window of opportunity to tie the game was rapidly closing.
And then that window slammed shut completely, and the Flames were shut out for the second time this season.
This is gonna be a short one, folks.
Nobody scored in the first or the third period. In the first, the Flames fought the puck and made several ugly giveaways, to the point where Karri Ramo had to make a few nice saves to keep the game dead-locked. Shots were 6-4 Anaheim in the first and they had a narrow 11-10 attempt lead as well.
The second period featured a goal late, as the Flames ran around in their zone a little too often and Rickard Rakell found Shawn Horcoff with a nice pass for a one-timer that Ramo had no chance on. Shots were 11-3 Anaheim and attempts were 26-6 in the second. The Flames were lucky to have only given up that one goal, as many Ducks sojourns into the Flames end ended up with shots going off a foot or just missing the net.
The third saw the Flames push back a bit. They got a few good looks – Sam Bennett had a really good shift that saw him ring a shot off the post – but they couldn’t beat John Gibson, even with the goalie pulled and with an extra man after a late Jiri Sekac puck-over-glass penalty. Alas, the game ended 1-0. Shots were 7-4 for the home side and the Flames also had a 15-7 attempts edge.
For what it’s worth, there was a bit of a scrum at the end of the game, too, as Ryan Kesler shot on an empty net post-buzzer and Dennis Wideman got involved in some fisticuffs. We’ll see if the league says anything about it, as it was generally silly all-around and nobody came out looking particularly good – the team that got shutout after generating only 14 shots or the dum-dum that shot after the buzzer.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
The Flames lost because the Ducks smothered their system, completely negating, frustrating and disrupting their stretch passes with some smart neutral zone play, and disrupting their attempts at clean zone entries with some smart positional defense at their own blueline. It took the Flames until mid-way through the final period to come up with an answer for it, and by then it was far too late.
14 shots on goal is a season-low for the Flames, by the way.
Karri Ramo made 20 saves and was really sharp in the first two periods to keep the game close, so let’s give it to him. Sam Bennett is an honourable mention, as he was also strong – especially in the third period.
As for everyone else, they had some energy here and there, but their execution was way, way off. Case in point: they won 59% of their draws but completely mismanaged the puck from there on out.
“The game is over, it doesn’t change anything. It gives you guys a few subjects of conversation, but we lost the game one-zip. That’s what it is.” – Bob Hartley on the fracas at the end of the game.
“You just have to come back. At some point we’ve got to come back and start going as a five-man unit from our blueline and chipping with speed. No matter what you do, you can’t carry the puck in when they play like that, they’re standing on their blueline, four guys basically, so you’ve got to chip [with] speed. I thought we did a better job in the third, generating some chances on our power-plays, but we couldn’t find the answer.” – Mark Giordano on how the team needed to adjust to the Ducks’ disruptive play in the neutral zone.
The Flames polish off their 2015 calendar year with their first meeting of the season with Darryl Sutter and the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Kings on New Year’s Eve.