(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
For the second straight contest, the Calgary Flames looked pretty damn good.
After Saturday afternoon’s 4-2 triumph in Pittsburgh, they returned home for a date with the San Jose Sharks. The Flames out-shot and largely out-worked the Sharks, but dropped a heart-breaking 2-1 overtime decision as they just couldn’t find a way to beat Martin Jones more than once.
The Flames are now 27-34-5 on the season.
The Flames were rather discombobulated early, and the visitors seemed to spend an awful lot of time in the Flames end. Mikael Backlund nearly scored early, but he couldn’t pounce on a loose puck in the crease. The Sharks opened the scoring early, on their second shot of the game. After a weird sequence where the puck soared into the air through a crowd, Brent Burns fired it from the very edge of the Flames end and beat Joni Ortio through traffic. The locals had a few power-plays to generate chances, but failed to score – despite having a short 5-on-3 – and we went into the intermission with the Sharks up 1-0. Shots were 12-7 for the Flames and attempts were 24-15. The Flames started to get their legs under them as the period wore on, but the Sharks had the more dangerous opportunities.
The second period wasn’t high-event in terms of scoring chances – the Flames had a ton of shots and attempts, but really couldn’t generate great chances – but it was eventful. Garnet Hathaway drew an early penalty when his helmet got high-sticked off his head. Then he drew another bunch of penalties in a scrum with Brent Burns; Burns busted Hathaway open with a high stick and then went after him after a whistle, and then they fought after the initial scrum broke up. Hathaway got five for fighting, two for instigator and a 10-minute misconduct, and Burns got a double-minor for high-sticking and five for fighting. The Flames led in shots 18-4 and attempts 31-9, but couldn’t get anything past Martin Jones.
The final period of regulation was much, much closer than the second, but the Flames still dominate in possession and zone-time. Finally, with Brenden Dillon in the box and the Flames on their seventh power-play of the game – and with Ortio pulled for the extra attacker – Joe Colborne tipped a Giordano point shot past Jones to tie the game with just over a minute to go. Shots were 18-11 and shot attempts were 27-15, both for the home side.
Overtime came and went in rapid-fire, as the Sharks scored on the first shot of the period, 19 seconds in. Joe Pavelski, who my cousin named his cat after, scored to end this game.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Two reasons: Martin Jones’ insane play (47 saves!), and their inability to score on the power-play. They had seven man advantages. They generated a ton, but their most dangerous players didn’t seem incredibly dangerous until the clock was winding down and they began to play desperate. 17 power-play shots and it’s their last one that finally beats Jones because they were cluttering up the crease (and had an extra man on for the 6-on-4).
If the Flames play desperate hockey with the puck early-on, it’s doubtful that the game’s this close.
Garnet Hathaway was very good tonight. He drew five minor penalties (and generate four power-plays on his lonesome), racked up 17 penalty minutes, had three stitches, two shots and two hits, all in 8:05 of actual ice-time.
Oh, and let’s not forget Joni Ortio, who was really good when called upon tonight.
THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
Note: as of this writing, Vancouver is losing to Los Angeles in the late game.
It’s gonna be tough for the other teams to make up for all the extra games Edmonton has played.
The Flames are back in action on Wednesday evening when they host the Nashville Predators.