The very good New York Islanders made their lone visit of the season to the Scotiabank Saddledome this evening. And the Calgary Flames were, for the most part, up to the challenge. Unfortunately, a few minor defensive lapses against a better team resulted in a 2-1 overtime loss for the locals.
There are 22 games remaining in their regular season schedule. The Flames are now 26-30-4.
The viewing audience on television and in the Saddledome was treated to an eventful first period. The Flames were buzzing around early, and a really nice passing play between Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler was polished off by the Czech veteran scoring his 10th goal of the season off a really nice feed from Monahan to make it 1-0. Matt Stajan got walloped by Casey Cizikas in the Isles zone, prompting a fight between Cizikas and Lance Bouma.
Rough hit on Stajan pic.twitter.com/vFgvi56omB
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) February 26, 2016
Bouma and Cizikas crazily smiling at each other after that fight was a sight to see pic.twitter.com/v9g9F5tjAZ
— connor (@ConIsles) February 26, 2016
Later on, Mark Giordano was walloped by Matt Martin after dumping the puck into the Islanders end, prompting another fight between Martin and Brandon Bollig. The period ended without any additional goals or fisticuffs, but the Flames largely kept the Isles to the outside. Shots were 12-12 and shot attempts were 22-14 for the Flames.
The second frame was a bit less wonderous, as the Islanders figured a few things out and the Flames seemed to lose a gear. In a sequence that was representative of the entire game/season thus far, Bollig fought Martin again early in the second – unfortunately negating a lengthy offensive zone stay for the Flames and a potential scoring opportunity. Whoops. The remainder of the period was rather back and forth, with the Flames spending more time in their own end but defending intelligently to minimize good chances. Nobody scored any goals, despite the Flames having 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 rushes late. The Flames had edges in shots (11-10) and shot attempts (21-15).
The Islanders pressed in the third, but the Flames held them at bay…for awhile. After the Flames killed a Joe Colborne tripping penalty, Matt Martin fought off Monahan and Giordano along the defensive zone boards and fed Thomas Hickey in the slot. Hickey’s shot trickled through Ortio and tied it up at 1-1. Neither team could score again. Shots were 9-7 for the Islanders, while attempts were also 21-15 in favour of the visitors.
And so we went to overtime! It was a back-and-forth extra frame, with good chances for both sides. Just when everyone began thinking about the shootout, Josh Bailey scored with 17.8 seconds left to ice it (as he was left briefly unguarded by the Flames defenders).
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Well, they were up to the challenge for the first half of the game, but they seemed to tire and get a bit sloppy in their execution of their defensive systems as the game wore on. A missed check here and some lapsed coverage there, and you have two goals.
And it’s a shame, too, because they were all over the Islanders early-on and Halak held them in it.
Once again, Joni Ortio. He made 32 saves and was full marks on a few tough chances.
Johnny Gaudreau was also quite good, but wasn’t as noticeable in the second half of the game.
The Flames have a recovery day tomorrow and are back in action on Saturday night, with a Retro Night tilt against the Ottawa Senators. Expect the Flames to look snazzy, the music to be awesome, and for several players to be suiting up as Flames for the final time.