(Anne-Marie Sorvin / USA Today Sports)
The Calgary Flames have had a rough few days. They’ve played three games in four nights, in three different cities. Sure, the games were against two of the suspected worst clubs in the Western Conference. But for a team that’s got no consistency (and seems unsure of its identity), three divisional games should’ve been exactly what they needed to get themselves settled. Right?
Nope. For the third time in this short season, the Flames managed to lose against a divisional opponent. And for the first time this season, they failed to score an actual goal. They lost to the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in a shootout at Rogers Arena, ending a disappointing first week of the regular season.
The Flames seemed to have their working boots on early; they forechecked well but just couldn’t create many chances. Troy Brouwer took a penalty in the Canucks end, but the Flames forecheck caused Loui Ericsson to accidentally chuck the puck into his own empty net. Brett Kulak got credit, his first NHL goal…
Eriksson own-goals it pic.twitter.com/K6PXBb6hVd
— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 16, 2016
when Loui Eriksson scores your first NHL goal for you pic.twitter.com/QLlNAarG7B
— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 16, 2016
Then the officials reviewed it in the intermission and changed the goal to Troy Brouwer, because the world is a cruel, cruel place. The rest of the period as a bit of a jumble of broken plays. Shots were 9-7 Vancouver.
Nothing really happened in the second period. Both teams had a power play, neither generated much. Shots were 11-7 Flames, but none of them were all that dangerous.
The third period was mostly a continuation of the aimless second, but Vancouver gradually became more and more composed and pressed. Finally, after a shift where they hemmed the Flames top line in their own end for almost two full minutes, Daniel Sedin beat Chad Johnson to tie the game up at 1-1.
Our man @BradHutch says VAN had puck in CAL zone for 1:34 before 1-1 goal.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 16, 2016
Johnson kept the Flames in it, and so it was off to extra hockey. Shots were 12-7 Vancouver in the third.
Overtime solved nothing. Shots were 3-0, but Johnson kept the game tied. But the Flames couldn’t do anything in the shootout and Brandon Sutter beat Johnson in the fourth round to mercifully end this one.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
They got a point because Vancouver wasn’t particularly good for 45 minutes. They were uneven in the first, to the point where they scored on themselves. That said, the Flames only got the single point because they weren’t particularly good themselves. Errant passes, offensive chances dying on various players’ sticks, and line shuffling that seemingly resulted more in general confusion than in manufacturing momentum.
For the second straight night, they started off well and severely tailed off. And for the third straight game, they failed to play more than a solid 20 minutes of ice hockey.
THE TURNING POINT
It’s definitely Daniel Sedin’s goal, coming at the tail end of a shift where Calgary’s top line (and defensive pairing) entered Vancouver’s end, did absolutely nothing with the puck, and then got trapped inside their own zone with no sign of escape in sight. To that point, the Flames were able to at least keep Vancouver from doing too much with the puck. But they gave the Sedins (and Ericsson) a ton of time and space and, without an urgent forecheck causing them to make mistakes, they executed a nice passing sequence with gusto.
Let’s go with Chad Johnson, the first goaltender to earn a point for the Flames this season. After looking pretty rough in his preseason outing at Rogers Arena a week ago, he was a lot better tonight. He wasn’t tested a ton, but he was up to the task when he was needed.
Brett Kulak was also pretty consistently solid, making his first appearance of the season.
THIS AND THAT
The Flames got a point, ensuring they won’t start the season 0-3-0 for the sixth time (they previously went pointless through three games in 2000-01, 1999-00, 1997-98, 1982-83 and 1975-76).
At even-strength, only Micheal Ferland and Alex Chiasson were north of 50% Corsi For. And Ferland had several scoring chances die on his stick.
STATS LLC is crediting Ryan Miller with a shutout. The #Canucks lone goal allowed was via an empty netter
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) October 16, 2016
According to Natural Stat Trick, the players that gave up the most Scoring Chances Against at even-strength? The top line (Gaudreau, Monahan, Versteeg) and top defensive pairing (Giordano, Brodie). That’s not good.
Stockton beat the San Jose Barracuda 3-2 in the first game of the American Hockey League season. Jon Gillies made 28 saves, while Matt Frattin, Hunter Shinkaruk and Ryan Lomberg scored. Morgan Klimchuk was scratched.
Mason McDonald won his second pro start in as many games as the Adirondack Thunder won 5-3 over Manchester.
The Flames (0-2-1) head home and are off until Tuesday, when they host the injury-riddled Buffalo Sabres.