(Ed Mulholland / USA Today Sports)
Already smarting from a shootout loss in Edmonton on the weekend, the Calgary Flames got out to an 0-1-1 start on their five-game road trip by virtue of a 4-2 loss in Newark to the New Jersey Devils.
The Flames never led the game and weren’t amazing at even-strength, relying on their special teams to keep the game close. Their attempted third period comeback never quite got where it needed to go against a composed Devils squad, and so the Flames failed to gain any points in the Western Conference playoff race.
The opening frame was characterized by wild swings and chances both ways. The Devils had momentum early and could’ve buried Calgary in the first chunk of the game, but a few goal posts (and Jonas Hiller) kept things close. Adam Larsson opened the scoring five minutes into the period after he snuck in from the point and one-timed a Reid Boucher pass past Hiller. The Flames responded back on the power-play (thankfully), as Sean Monahan put a Johnny Gaudreau feed in the net behind Cory Schneider. Shots were 10-9 for the Devils, while shot attempts were 19-17 for the home side as well.
Man, the wheels nearly fell off in the first couple minutes of the second period. The Devils went after them early, with Mike Cammalleri finding Lee Stempniak for the go-ahead goal just 57 seconds in. Then they scored again on a weird play, involving Mark Giordano getting shoved into Hiller and then Boucher scoring to make it 3-1. The Flames protested but the goal was upheld. The Flames weathered a storm for awhile, but soon got a succession of power-plays – they had three right after the other, including a brief 5-on-3 – allowing Kris Russell to score from the point to make it 3-2. Shots were 11-8 for the Devils, while the home club also had a 16-12 shot attempt edge.
The Flames pushed hard in the third, but the Devils defended pretty well and didn’t give up too many good chances. Shots were 11-4 Calgary and attempts were 16-14 for the Flames, but they just couldn’t get anything on the board. Andy Greene scored on the empty net to ice it.
To cheer you up from this loss, here’s a Futurama clip:
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Well, despite the Flames getting bailed out by their power-play to some extent, they just weren’t all that good at even-strength. The Devils generated enough chances 5-on-5 to get a lead, and then played smart defensive hockey to hold on.
It helps that they managed to key in on Bennett and Gaudreau and negate them to some extent.
While he wasn’t amazing at even-strength, Johnny Gaudreau had a pair of primary assists on the power-play and was buzzing whenever he got the puck. So let’s give it to him.
Other than Gaudreau, nobody was particularly terrible, but nobody was good enough to be a difference-maker either.
The Flames (20-21-3) are off to Ohio for a visit with Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night!
Here’s a fond Columbus memory, gang: