The Calgary Flames fell further behind the pack tonight with a 2-1 loss to the visiting Nashville Predators in their final game before the National Hockey League’s All-Star Break. The culprits, once again, were their woeful first periods – in which they gave up the first goal of the game for the 23rd time this season – and their power-play, which failed to score for the sixth time in the last seven games.
The Flames fall to 21-24-3 and remain eight points out of a divisional playoff spot and 10 points out of a wild-card spot.
The Flames were pretty flat early-on, not getting their first carry-in zone entry until almost seven minutes in and not getting their first shot until almost nine minutes in. And Nashville wasn’t overly challenged when they tried to enter the zone, which led to their first goal. Craig Smith skated the puck in and passed it to Mike Ribiero, whose shot was partially blocked by Ramo’s arm but trickled in. Shots were 10-4 in the first and attempts were 15-11, both for Nashville. It wasn’t a high-event period and the crowd was pretty quiet.
Things were a bit more lively in the second, but not overly so. Once again, the Predators did a good job defending and keeping the game quiet and slow, and the Flames didn’t do a heck of a lot to generate. After having unsuccessful power-plays in the first, the Flames took a string of penalties in the second, and that ended up hurting them. On their third (of four) kills of the period, Ryan Johansen fed the puck to Roman Josi with a nifty behind-the-back pass, opening a lane for a Shea Weber slapper from the face-off circle that beat Ramo to make it 2-0. Shots were 7-6 Flames in the second, while shot attempts were 14-12 for Nashville.
Faster than you could say “score effects,” the Flames pushed back in the third period. Just shy of six minutes into the period, Mark Giordano crept in and fired a Johnny Gaudreau feed past Carter Hutton to make it 2-1. At that point, the Predators attempted to go into full shell and the Flames went into full court pass. Notably, they pulled the goalie, got a power-play and won three offensive zone face-offs in the final 11 seconds and generated a few late, frantic scoring chances. (All three wins by Sean Monahan.) But the Flames just couldn’t muster enough to tie the game. Shots were 16-7 and attempts 29-11, both for the Flames.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Once again, they weren’t very good in the opening period, spotted their opposition a couple of early goals, and had to try to claw their way back in. Once again, because this isn’t 2014-15, they weren’t quite able to do it.
It’s a shame, too, because their centers were clutch – all four regular pivots won 50+% of their draws – and the team was skating like the wind in the third. Unfortunately, they were bad enough early on to squander some nice hockey late in the game.
Let’s go with T.J. Brodie, who generated a lot despite getting buried in terms of zone starts.
The All-Star Break. The Flames are back in action next Wednesday when the Carolina Hurricanes come to town.