The Calgary Flames entered tonight’s game hoping for points. They left the Saddledome tonight down another defenseman – as Ladislav Smid left in the first period and didn’t return – and even further behind the eight-ball than they began the night.
They dropped a 5-3 decision on home ice to John Torchetti’s Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night. The Flames had a great night in terms of possession hockey. But while they had the puck a lot, they just couldn’t do quite enough with it.
The Flames got out of the gate strong, at one point out-attempting the Wild 14-7 and really managing the puck well. But as the period wore on, the Wild adapted (and the Flames faltered a bit). Matt Stajan lost a draw and Jason Pominville found Erik Huala in the slot for a one-timer and a 1-0 Wild lead. And late in the period, with Zach Parise in the penalty box, Jason Zucker blew past Jakub Nakladal on a failed poke-check and skated in and beat Jonas Hiller top-corner to make it 2-0. Shots were 10-9 Calgary and the hosts also led in shot attempts by a 19-11 margin (but the Wild really got it together after a slow start).
The second period was really two periods. In the first, the Flames took three successive penalties and gave their opponents a pair of two-man advantages. On the first, Ryan Suter scored to make it 3-0. But just when it looked bleak, the Flames began to battle back. Off a lengthy sequence in the Minnesota zone, Deryk Engelland scored his first goal since March 25, 2015 off a nice feed from Johnny Gaudreau to make it 3-1. The Flames had a long power-play but couldn’t score, but shortly after their power-play expired, Matt Stajan drove into the zone and passed it to David Jones. Jones’ shot ricocheted off Matt Dumba’s face (!) and past Dubnyk to make it 3-2. But the Wild roared back and after a sequence full of failed shot blocks and weird turnovers, Pominville scored to make it 4-2 heading into the intermission. Shots were even at 11-11, and the Flames had a slim 21-18 shot attempts lead.
The Flames had a bunch of power-play opportunities in the third period, but couldn’t generate very much besides offensive zone time. They finally broke through and got back within a single goal with four minutes remaining in regulation off a nice passing sequence that ended with a tap-in goal for Mikael Backlund. But that’s as close as they got, and Charlie Coyle’s empty-netter iced it for the visitors. Shots were 7-4 for Calgary in the third while attempts were a staggering 24-6. In short? The Wild kept them to the outside, and skated away with two much-needed points.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Despite having crazy-good possession stats, once they got down a few goals, the Flames just couldn’t manage the puck well enough to generate some solid scoring chances. They had plenty of offensive zone time, but they couldn’t wear down the Wild defenders enough to get lanes open and take advantage of that team.
The Flames were pretty decent, but decent won’t cut it at this time of year.
Let’s go with T.J. Brodie. He had two assists, played just under 27 minutes and had 3 shots.
Giordano (29 minutes) was also pretty good. Everyone else was decent, but not quite good enough to be called good.
WHO SCOUTED THE FLAMES?
Disclaimer: Just because somebody’s on the scouting list doesn’t mean they were there (travel plans often change), and often teams scout other pro games to get background on future free agents. Regardless, here’s who was slated to be at the ‘Dome for this evening’s game.
Teams: Arizona, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Rangers and Tampa Bay.
Notables: Montreal director of pro scouting Vaughn Karpan, Dallas assistant general manager Les Jackson, Toronto director of pro scouting Dave Morrison, Boston executive director of player personnel John Ferguson
The Flames are back in action on Friday night in a pivotal Pacific Division title when they host the Vancouver Canucks at the Scotiabank Saddledome.