The Calgary Flames came into San Jose hoping for a consistent 60 minute effort, and ideally two points.
After one of the most bizarre games they’ve played in all season, they’re probably just happy to escape Silicon Valley. Despite blowing 2-0 and 4-1 leads, and losing both David Jones and Karri Ramo to injuries, the Flames eked out a 6-5 shootout victory in San Jose.
It was a fun game to watch if you only cared about goals and excitement. If you wanted to see strong structural hockey, or a team not blowing giant leads, you came to the wrong place.
The opening period was a tidal wave of goals, mostly from the Flames. They began with a pair of goals 1:06 apart, with Sam Bennett’s wrister to make it 1-0 being followed by a power-play goal from Mark Giordano to make it 2-0. Tommy Wingels answered back a few minutes later to drag the Sharks back within one, but the Flames responded with two more – a great passing play finished of by Sean Monahan to make it 3-1 and a Mikael Backlund effort to make it 4-1. The Sharks had a possession and shot edge – 12-9 in shots and 21-12 in attempts – but life was good in Flames-ville because San Jose’s goalie wasn’t sharp and the entire team looked shaky.
And then the wheels fell off and the Flames blew a 4-1 lead.
Logan Couture scored early in the second period on the Sharks second power-play – a carry-over advantage from late in the first. The Sharks then deluged the Flames with shots, but it wasn’t until they got a two-man advantage and then Bob Hartley took a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct by arguing the calls that Patrick Marleau was able to score on the ensuing lengthy advantage to make it 4-3. Shots in the second were 11-4 for the Sharks and attempts were 29-11. It was not an even period. The Flames were not good at all.
And they completed their collapse in the third. Joonas Donskoi buried a Couture feed a few minutes in – at even-strength, mind you – to make it 4-4. The Sharks pulled ahead on another power-play – their sixth of the game at that point – by way of a Dylan Demelo goal to make it 5-4. But because this game had to get weirder, Kris Russell snuck in from the point and buried a rebound from an initial Bennett chance on the power-play to make it 5-5. Karri Ramo left the game late on a bizarre sequence that saw Bennett take a elbowing penalty, Giordano take a penalty for tripping a Shark forward, and said Shark forward crash into Ramo and seemingly crush his knee between his out-of-control body and the post. Jonas Hiller came in and somehow the Flames survived the 5-on-3 power-play – courtesy of a great effort from Mikael Backlund – and they managed to survive their way to overtime. Shots were 17-6 Sharks and attempts were 24-13 Sharks.
Overtime was back and forth but nobody scored. San Jose had leads in shots (3-2) and attempts (9-4) but both teams looked dangerous. Joe Colborne and Jiri Hudler scored in the shootout to seal the deal and end the craziness.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Honestly? This was a game they deserved to lose, and were only in because Alex Stalock was lousy in the first period. (He gave up 4 goals on 9 shots.) From the second period until basically overtime began, the Flames got their heads absolutely kicked in, and that’s just at even-strength.
You can rant and rave about bad officiating all you want – and don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t great – but the Flames were out-shot 26-16 at even-strength and then gave their opponents nine power-plays. That’s insane, and unacceptable for a team with playoff aspirations.
Sam Bennett had three points, so let’s go with him.
But T.J. Brodie played THIRTY MINUTES, so that’s also pretty great so tip your hat to him, too. And give Jonas Hiller a ton of credit; he jumped into a crazy game and managed to get the Flames two important points.
The Flames jump on a plane and head to the greater Phoenix area, as they face the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow evening in another crucial Pacific Division tilt.
But hey, they’re back up to .500, with a 25-25-3 record.