(Brad Penner / USA Today Sports)
The Calgary Flames ended their mega-trip in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders. The Islanders are probably a bit more skilled and definitely more rested than the Flames, who at times looked like a bunch of guys looking forward to a nap on the plane ride home.
That said, the Flames played a much more calm, structured and gaffe-less game than they did the night previous in Philadelphia. While the Flames did make some errors, and they did lose, they did so in overtime by a 2-1 score. They head home with seven of a possible 12 points on their road trip.
The Flames had much more jump in the opening period than they had in the entire Flyers game. However, they got caught on a mistake at the offensive blueline that led to an Islanders goal. T.J. Brodie bobbled the puck just inside the Isles blueline. Justin Bailey stole it, raced up the ice and fed it back to a trailing John Tavares who beat Brian Elliott with a nifty top-corner shot to make it 1-0. The visitors didn’t generate a ton, despite their energy. Shots were 9-4 for the Islanders.
Nobody scored in second, though each side had a bit of pressure here and there. Shots were 11-10 for the Flames. The Flames finally broke through mid-way through the third. Sean Monahan was bumped up the rotation – getting a promotion from Micheal Ferland and Hunter Shinkaruk to Kris Versteeg and Troy Brouwer, while Mark Jankowski got bumped down. Versteeg and Brouwer raced in and had a two-on-one opportunity broken up, but they battled back to retrieve the puck and Versteeg fed Monahan for a nice one-timer goal to make it 1-1. Neither team scored a go-ahead goal in regulation, so it was off to extra hockey we went. (Shots were 11-6 Flames in the third.)
Unfortunately for the Flames, another gaffe cost them in overtime, as Michael Frolik’s stick broke and he (after a lot of hesitation and attempts at defending without a stick) rushed off for a change. However, Tavares held onto the puck and put a low shot towards Elliott, and Thomas Hickey made a nice redirect that squeaked past Elliott for the 2-1 win. Shots were 2-0 in OT for the Isles.
WHY THE FLAMES GOT A POINT
They calmed down, big-time, compared to the Flyers game. The Sunday Flames ran around like chickens with their heads cut off at times, especially in the defensive zone. The Monday Flames, perhaps taking a cue from Jankowski, simply were content to take a deep breath and study the Isles a bit before acting. There was a lot less chasing and a lot more anticipating in the defensive zone.
It wasn’t pretty hockey and, at times, it was downright dull. But for the sixth game in nine days on the road, the Flames looked just fine.
THE TURNING POINT
The Flames had a game where most of the breaks went their way – or at least didn’t go wildly against them. Unfortunately, Frolik’s stick breaking in the defensive zone came at precisely the wrong time. His rush to the bench for a replacement gave the Islanders a ton of time to set up and, unfortunately, resulted in the game-tilting goal.
He didn’t have any points, but Micheal Ferland was superb tonight. Lots of hitting. Lots of driving the play and making smart decisions with the puck. Lots of intelligent puck management that resulted in scoring opportunities for his linemates.
For his part, Elliott looked a lot calmer in net than he’s seemed in weeks.
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall.)
THIS AND THAT
— NHL (@NHL) November 29, 2016
Story of Flames season. They get a breakaway, but it’s Derek Engelland.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) November 29, 2016
Tonight’s attendance: 10,772
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) November 29, 2016
Jankowski played 10:18 tonight, entirely at even strength. He played roughly six minutes and change with Versteeg and Brouwer through the first two periods and just over three minutes with Ferland and Shinkaruk in the third period. He won five of eight face-offs that he took. All together, a solid debut.
After their lengthy absence from our fair country, the Flames (10-13-2) return home tonight and they have a CBA-mandated off day to refresh themselves, recharge their batteries, and reacquaint themselves with their loved ones. They’re back in action on Wednesday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town.
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