Tonight was a big game for the Calgary Flames. If they wanted to make their lives easier over the last few weeks of the season, a win tonight would’ve been nice. Unfortunately the team’s attention to detail, usually something they excel at, was sorely lacking. Bad puck management on the power play combined with some really bad zone exit attempts en route to a 3-1 loss to Nashville at Bridgestone Arena.
It was a playoff-like atmosphere in Nashville, with lots of board work and good scoring chances at a premium. The Flames carried most of play at even strength, but couldn’t bury anything as Pekka Rinne stood tall. Shots were 9-7 Calgary.
The Predators got up early in the second period. First, Freddie Hamilton took a rather silly roughing minor. The Predators couldn’t score on the power play, but Colin Smith found Calle Karnkrok in the slot with a gorgeous feed just after the advantage ended and a nice wrister made it 1-0 Nashville. They went up 2-0 a few minutes later; the Flames couldn’t clear the puck, they got extremely scrambly in their own end, and Colton Sissons beat Johnson from an awful angle (Johnson had already dropped down and Sissons kept skating wide to open a shooting lane). But Dougie Hamilton made it 2-1 before the end of the period off a really nice passing sequence that began with some nice board battling by Micheal Ferland.
Ferland with a beauty pass to Dougie.
2-1 game now.
We're glad Micheal Ferland isn't mumpy. pic.twitter.com/3k3j3Ek3MT
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) March 24, 2017
Shots were 9-3 Calgary.
The Flames pressed in the third, but couldn’t bury anything. They failed to clear the zone multiple times, so Ryan Ellis corralled the puck and beat Johnson with a wrister through traffic to make it 3-1. Calgary pulled the goalie but couldn’t generate much. Shots were 7-7.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Two big reasons.
The Flames had five power plays. That’s 10 full minutes, or one-sixth of the running time of this game. They managed just four shots. That’s horrible.
Also horrible? A lot of cheating on zone exits, with players escaping the defensive zone way ahead of the initial pass. That resulted in plenty of unforced turnovers and a pair of goals. The Flames are usually much better than this with the puck.
THE TURNING POINT
The Flames were pressing in the third, but that Ellis goal (and the series of miscues that led to it) was inexcusable and a back-breaker.
I've got four opportunities here to clear the zone/regroup to break out that all failed: pic.twitter.com/ExFxgf0XE5
— AOL KEYWORD: Mike (@mikeFAIL) March 24, 2017
Y’know, for a guy that had been in isolation for five days Ferland sure did seem like a bundle of energy. He was all over this game and one of the few big consistent bright spots for the Flames.
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Data via Natural Stat Trick.)
THIS AND THAT
#Flames lose consecutive games for the first time in almost two months. January 23rd and 24th the last time.
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) March 24, 2017
Consequently, it’s also two games in a row where the Flames never had a lead.
Stick-tap to our pal (and yours) Pat Steinberg for busting out the slide-ruler to do the initial calculations on these!
The Flames magic number to clinch a playoff spot began the night at 5. They lost, so that number doesn’t change.
The Flames (41-29-4) are off to St. Louis tomorrow. They play the Blues on Saturday at 5 p.m. (on City TV) to finish off this road trip.
GETAWAY WITH AMA