For the 22nd straight regular season trip to the Honda Center (former the Arrowhead Pond), the Calgary Flames lost to the Anaheim Ducks.
What went wrong this time? The Flames played fairly well through the first two periods, and then the Ducks pulled away early in the third by taking advantage of some Flames defensive miscues. They won handily by a 5-2 score.
The opening frame was, to be blunt, ugly and one-sided. The Flames were out-shot 10-5 (9-1 at even-strength, which just….yikes) and out-attempted 30-12 (21-4 at even-strength). They did a decent job at minimizing the damage Anaheim could do, but with about five minutes left in the opening frame they seemed to get caught in an ugly sequence of “Hey, let’s all block shots instead of playing good defense,” Lance Bouma got hurt blocking a shot, and Patrick Maroon beat Jonas Hiller under his arm for the game’s opening goal in the ensuing chaos.
After weathering an early storm from the Ducks in the second, the
Flames battled back. Ryan Kesler made it 2-0 Anaheim mid-way through
the period on a really nice, long passing sequence in the Flames
zone. However, the Flames seemed to get their act together after that
goal and generated some chances of their own. On a late power-play
Johnny Gaudreau made a gorgeous back-pass to the point, giving Mark
Giordano a great lane to power home a shot and make it 2-1. Shots
were 9-9 in the second, and attempts were 19-19.
However, the Ducks imposed their will on the Flames early in the
third period. 16 seconds in, the Ducks made it 3-1 off a Ryan Getzlaf
feed from David Perron (who stole the puck from Dougie Hamilton). A few minutes later, Ryan Kesler fought off Deryk Engelland and beat Hiller to make it 4-1. They stretched their lead to 5-1 on a late power-play off a point shot from Kevin Bieksa. The Flames finally responded with a Mikael Backlund goal in the final minute of regulation, but the Ducks still had a three-goal lead and couldn’t have cared less at that point. Shots were 14-10 for Anaheim and attempts were 21-20 for the Ducks as well. If there were score effects here, I shudder to think of how one-sided this could’ve gotten.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Because it’s Anaheim.
Nah, they lost because the Ducks were able to play their type of game, kept the Flames largely to the outside (or hemmed them into their own end), and because the Ducks were always able to get the proverbial “next goal.” Down by one goal heading into the third? Boom, Ducks score. Need a quick response to get back into the game? Boom, Ducks score again. The Flames just couldn’t get the “next goal,” and the Ducks always could.
It also helps that the Ducks are an incredibly deep team with last change.
Also, pour a 40 out for Engelland, because those are some horrendous possession numbers – even taking into account the guys he was out there against.
It’s hard on a night like this, but let’s go with Johnny Gaudreau. He could’ve had a couple goals tonight but got unlucky with posts and whatnot. And he was superb on Giordano’s goal.
THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
The Flames remain five points up on the last place Leafs and Oilers, and 10 points back of Nashville for the last Western Conference wild-card spot.
They’re sixth-last in the NHL.
The Flames (26-29-3) get a day off tomorrow in SoCal to lick their wounds, and then they face off against the Pacific Division’s top team right now, the Los Angeles Kings.