The Calgary Flames have been rolling along quite well over the past several months. Tonight’s game with the Los Angeles Kings was one they really should have had, given the Kings were playing their second game in as many nights and that the Flames had a chance to clinch a playoff berth.
Unfortunately, the Flames ran into a brick wall in the form of 39-year-old Jarome Iginla. In a game that had all the markings of a 2004 playoff game – including tons of clutching, grabbing and physicality – the Flames looked lost at times en route to a 4-1 setback. It was a vintage performance from both Iginla and the youthful Flames, who looked taken aback by the temperment of the game.
This game really didn’t have very much flow to it. The first period was primarily a series of whistles and icings, with 40 minutes of penalties called (including two fights). The Flames opened the scoring, with Dougie Hamilton pinching and getting his own rebound to make it 1-0.
Guns and ships.
Hamilton never throws his shot away.
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) March 30, 2017
The Kings tied things up before the end of the period on a really neat goal; Trevor Lewis redirected a Derek Forbort point shot (through traffic) while falling down past Brian Elliott to make it 1-1. Shots were 10-6 Kings.
The second period was a slog. There were many, many penalties. There wasn’t much flow to it. Both teams seemed to be fighting the puck. Just when it looked like the Flames would escape 40 minutes of so-so play with a tie, Jarome Iginla got credit for a weird goal in the final minute as after a goal-mouth scramble Mark Giordano hooked the puck towards Elliott… and inadvertently bonked it off his goaltender and into the open net. Whoops. Shots were 9-6 Kings.
The Flames were a bit flatter in the third, coming out seemingly wondering where the next goal would come from. Unfortunately, they didn’t really generate too many great chances from here on out. Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter (off a gorgeous feed from Iginla) added goals to make it a 4-1 final. Shots were 14-14 in the final period, but remember score effects and whatnot; the Flames didn’t generate many dangerous chances.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Honestly, the Flames didn’t seem to manage their emotions well. This was arguably the biggest game of the season. Fans probably expected a fast-paced game. Instead, the Kings dragged things down to their level and a lot of the blame for that has to be directed at the Flames. They engaged with the Kings when they really should’ve avoided a lot of the silliness. The Kings are a veteran team and they suckered the Flames in.
That said: the Flames had just eight shots combined on six power plays. They weren’t particularly sharp tonight with the extra man and as a result, they blew a golden opportunity to clinch against a tired opponent.
THE TURNING POINT
The Iginla goal was a weird one, but it transformed a 1-1 game after 40 minutes into a game where the Flames were chasing after two periods. That’s a big swing off a single bad goal.
Let’s go with Kris Versteeg, who was buzzing tonight and somehow led the team in shots.
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Data via Natural Stat Trick.)
THIS AND THAT
This was the 11th Gordie Howe Hat Trick of Iginla’s career.
To recap, Jarome Iginla's stat-line tonight — Gordie Howe Hat-Trick, game-winning goal, first star, prevents #Flames from clinching.
— Wes Gilbertson (@WesGilbertson) March 30, 2017
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 1 and remains at 1 with the regulation loss by the Flames (and regulation win by the Kings).
The Flames (43-30-4) practice tomorrow and then prepare to host the San Jose Sharks on Friday night in a game with huge divisional implications.