Tonight, the Calgary Flames strolled into Air Canada Center in Toronto on a bit of a high. The Flames have a ton of momentum, having won many games lately – despite trading away everything but the kitchen sink at the trade deadline. (They even found a new home for David Jones.)
Tonight, in a position to really distance themselves from the Leafs in the race for last place and separate themselves from the bottom pack, the Flames registered a pretty important 5-2 loss to Toronto.
It was their second game in as many nights on the road. But the Flames played a pretty flat, uninspired 60 minutes of hockey. It was the perfect time for that to happen, but it’s still pretty disappointing. But if you’re part of Team Tank? Mission accomplished.
The Flames came out flat in the first and the Leafs had a lot of chances early. They finally broke it open mid-way through the period. Jonas Hiller mishandled the puck behind the net; William Nylander stole it and fed P.A. Parenteau for a sure goal out front to make it 1-0. They had more chances, but that’s all they got. Shots were 7-3 Toronto and attempts were 25-7 Toronto.
After the intermission, the Flames came out and played with some pep. After exchanging chances, they finally broke through on the penalty kill, as Matt Stajan scored a short-handed goal to tie things up. Zach Hyman made it 2-1 a few minutes later off another nice Nylander pass, but the Flames responded back before the period ended as Joe Colborne deflected a Mark Giordano shot past Jonathan Bernier to make it 2-2. Shots were 15-8 Calgary and attempts were 26-24 Calgary.
As the Flames were trying to shake the cobwebs off to kick off the third, Nylander scored 29 seconds in to make it 3-2. The Flames tried to respond back but didn’t have the ability to bear down on their chances, and the Leafs added a pair of empty-netters (by Colin Greening and Josh Leivo) to ice things. Shots were 11-7 Toronto and attempts were 18-14 Toronto.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Well, they got tooled up by Michael Nylander’s kid, first and foremost. But fundamentally, they just lacked the crispness and energy that they had in Montreal. They were consistently the second-best team on the ice through the game, and they deserved to lose.
Oh, and they gave Toronto six power-plays. That’s pretty damn sloppy.
Mark Giordano was full of pep tonight and was pretty involved throughout the game. He had three shots, a primary assist, and led the team in ice-time.
And let’s give Josh Jooris some credit; after Johnny Gaudreau got hit by Nazem Kadri in the second, Jooris jumped in to engage Kadri. Whether you think fisticuffs are useful in hockey or not, it was nice to see an actual response from the team when their best player got leveled.
THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
The Flames tragic number is down to 3.5 – any combination of 3.5 Flames losses or Colorado wins will eliminate the Flames officially from the post-season.
The Flames fly off to the Twin Cities and are back in action on Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild.