(Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports)
Coming into Southern California this evening after a pretty solid victory over San Jose on Thursday, the Flames had a great opportunity in front of them. The Los Angeles Kings, a key divisional rival, is missing their top two goalies and is currently riding third-stringer Peter Budaj. The Kings are a team that has yet to find their mojo, something made evident by their stretch last week of scoring zero goals over three games. Given how tight the Western Conference playoff picture is anticipated to be, snatching points away from the Kings during this fragile time seems like a good plan – and a feasible plan give the Kings’ challenges.
In a key game, the Flames fell utterly flat. They generated perhaps a handful of decent scoring chances and made the Kings look like the Harlem Globetrotters in a 5-0 trouncing tonight at Staples Center.
The Flames were not good in the first period, and greatly resembled the sloppy mess that we saw early this season. All of our old friends came out to play including too many passes, over-handling the puck and unforced defensive zone turnovers. They took a pair of successive penalties in the midst of the Kings rushes, leading to a lengthy kill (and 19 seconds of five-on-three).
— Jerry Wurnig (@JerryUnderscore) November 6, 2016
They were successful with their kill, but Johnny Gaudreau’s attempted rush into the Kings end was batted away and Dwight King set up Jeff Carter with a nice drop-pass for a one-timer off the ensuing rush the other way. The Flames got caught flat-footed and the Kings took a 1-0 lead.
Jeff Carter snipes one past Brian Elliott in a battle of guys with two first names. pic.twitter.com/1PhXTDMgMV
— #LAKings (@LAKings) November 6, 2016
And just when it seemed like the Flames could white-knuckle it to the end of the period only down by one, Devin Setoguchi scored off a rebound to make it 2-0. Dustin Brown caught T.J. Brodie flat-footed, outraced him along the corner boards and set up the goal. The two Kings goals were just 45 seconds apart. Shots were 15-5 for LA.
The visitors had good pressure early in the second and seemed primed to score a goal and get back into the game. Unfortunately, Nicklas Grossmann’s point shot hit a shin-pad and he had to defend a two-on-one rush solo (as Dougie Hamilton didn’t get back to help out). Predictably, it resulted in a goal, as Nick Shore flipped a pass over to Kyle Clifford for the chip-in goal to make it 3-0. The Kings made it 4-0 before the end of the period, as another Flames giveaway gave Brown a scoring chance and Setoguchi scored on the rebound (again) to make it 4-0. Shots were 15-7 for the Kings. The Flames were good, and then really faded away.
Trevor Lewis scored an early tip-in goal off of a Drew Doughty point shot to make it 5-0. From that point on, the Kings seemed content just to hang back and let the Flames run around a bit.
Trevor Lewis makes it 5-0. Meanwhile, the Flames have mentally got on the bus and headed to Anaheim already.
— Kristen Odland (@Kristen_Odland) November 6, 2016
Shots were 12-9 for Calgary in the third, but almost none of them were dangerous.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
To put it bluntly? They regressed. The Kings ran the show in the first period, but they did so because the Flames were handling the puck like it was a live grenade – especially in their own end. What resulted was a defensive zone horror show not seen in these parts since the first two games against Edmonton where the Flames looked like they did not belong in the NHL.
By the time they got their feet under them, finally, they were down a pair of goals and they had zero chance of clawing back.
THE TURNING POINT
The Flames gave up the first goal of the game with just under a minute left in the first, but the back-breaker was the one that followed 45 seconds later. Brown beat Brodie on the outside and was free enough to put the puck out front. The Flames couldn’t block the pass, they couldn’t clear the rebound, and they weren’t hard enough on their checks in the defensive zone to prevent Setoguchi from getting a couple chances. They went to the dressing room down two goals and never looked like they were in it after that.
Let’s go with Matthew Tkachuk, whose line had some chances and generally seemed like one of the few guys wearing white tonight that were emotionally invested in the game’s outcome.
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall.)
THIS AND THAT
Our benevolant former overlord Kent Wilson tapped out after the second period.
Im out. Can’t bother to watch of the rest of this game. Three giant steps back for the Flames tonight.
— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) November 6, 2016
Glen Gulutzan’s comments after tonight will be fascinating at very least. If not cryptic. #Flames
— Roger Millions (@RogMillions) November 6, 2016
The Flames need to regroup immediately, because they’re off to scenic Anaheim to try to snap their 23-game regular season losing streak at the Honda Center tomorrow night against the Ducks.