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Photo Credit: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames lose in Anaheim (again)

The Calgary Flames haven’t won in Anaheim since 2004. They weren’t very good when they played the Ducks in Calgary on Sunday, but they only lost by a goal and probably learned a thing or two about their opponents. Tonight at the Honda Center, the Flames scored a nice first period goal to take a lead. Then they gave up three unanswered goals and were dragged into a series of fights, scrums and other dumb physical engagements that made them look like rank amateurs.

The Flames haven’t won in Anaheim since 2004. They lost 3-1 tonight, running their losing streak in Orange County to an NHL record 25 games.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames had some pep in their step early. They skated well. They generated chances. They seemed to know what they were doing. Mikael Backlund opened the scoring goal, burying a rebound (with some traffic) past John Gibson to make it 1-0.

Shots were 11-3 Calgary in the first.

The Ducks scored 48 seconds into the second. The Flames, for some reason, started the fourth line. They iced the puck. Ryan Getzlaf won a face-off and Patrick Eaves scored on the ensuing scramble to tie the game. Later on in the period, a Kevin Bieksa slap shot eluded Brian Elliott – who replaced Chad Johnson early in the game – and trickled into the net to make it 2-1. The goal was challenged by Glen Gulutzan on the basis of being off-side, but it stood. The Ducks took over the flow of the game from that point. Shots were 9-9.

The Ducks dictated the play in the third period. The Flames had a few chances here and there, but generate too much. The game seemed destined to be a rather blah one-goal Flames loss until Mark Giordano collided with Cam Fowler knee-on-knee in the Flames zone. Fowler left with a lower body injury. Shortly after that incident, Chris Wagner scored to make it 3-1 on a passing play made possible by the fourth line’s indifference to back-checking after the initial Ducks scoring chance missed the net.

After that goal, all hell broke loose. Giordano fought Josh Manson in a Code-dictated retaliation fight. But instead of things being settled, they boiled over with no fewer than three big pile-ups in the remainder of the third. The game got basically unwatchable after that point. Shots were 8-7 Anaheim.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

There are two big reasons. Goals and stupidity.

The Flames were the better team for the first 25 minutes of this game. Even when the Ducks started taking the game over, because they’re pretty good, the Flames had four power play opportunities – including a 48 second 5-on-3 advantage in the third period. They had six shots and zero goals. In a game that these guys had to have in order to avoid playing Chicago in the first round, that’s unacceptable.

The other reason was stupidity, in that the Flames allowed themselves to be sucked into the hugging and punching of the final 12 minutes of this game. The Ducks are a big, mean veteran team. They have the ability to drag teams into the muck if you let them. Just as they did in that awful game the Flames played against Los Angeles last week, the Flames let the Ducks drag them into the muck.

THE TURNING POINT

The Bieksa goal wasn’t great and put the Flames behind the eight-ball against a team that knows how to play with a lead. But the Flames also had a ton of time to get that one back. The third period two-man advantage was a huge missed opportunity.

RED WARRIOR

Once again, Bennett’s line was the most dangerous Flames unit. Everyone else had flashes of being good, but failed to put together a full game.

THE NUMBERS

(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Data via Natural Stat Trick.)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Chiasson 65.4 77.8 0.400
Engelland 64.3 42.9 0.150
Bartkowski 64.0 42.9 0.125
Bennett 61.9 87.5 0.380
Tkachuk 53.6 40.0 0.325
Gaudreau 52.6 66.7 0.275
Versteeg 52.4 88.9 0.580
Hamilton 50.0 81.8 0.300
Giordano 50.0 80.0 1.275
Backlund 50.0 60.0 0.870
Monahan 50.0 71.4 0.160
Bouma 47.1 0.0 -0.275
Frolik 46.7 50.0 0.275
Brouwer 43.8 0.0 -0.250
Brodie 41.2 44.4 -0.525
Stajan 38.1 0.0 -0.530
Stone 37.9 37.5 -0.375
Ferland 37.5 83.3 -0.275
Johnson 0.100
Elliott -0.650

THIS AND THAT

Flames goalie coach Jordan Sigalet dressed as emergency back-up goaltender after Chad Johnson left with an injury in the first period.

After the Flames loss, they cannot catch Anaheim, Edmonton or San Jose and will finish in one of the two wildcard spots. They’re tied with Nashville at 92 points with two games to go for each team.

UP NEXT

The Flames (44-32-4) practice tomorrow in scenic El Segundo, California, and prepare for Game 81 on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings.

GETAWAY WITH AMA

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  • Lucky 13

    Well I was hopeful after the first period that the curse would be broken. To no avail.
    Someone must have a voodoo doll that is hexing our team.

    What team is this now?
    Since when did we go from a possession team to a fighting one? I like that we were supporting our team mates, but we can’t compete with a heavy team like the Ducks and win.

    I’m honestly hoping we get the last wildcard spot. Chicago is better suited for us then Anaheim. Plus they’re not dirty like the Ducks.

    Let’s play hockey, not UFC

    • Sol Goode

      I agree, I would rather take my chances against Chicago. Anaheim is just to big for us and plays a stifling type of game that we just cant seem to beat. I think they would make short work of us like the last time we met in the playoffs.

      • flames2015

        I agree, the games that we played the hawks were some of the best the guys have played. They seem to step it up. We just don’t have an answer for ducks and we give into their antics. God I hate perry, kesler and bieska.

        • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

          I’m with you on Kessler. Normally I view other teams pests as “man I’d love that guy if he was on my team” but Kessler has no stones whatsoever. He was challenged so many times last night by guys in his weight class and the only guy he wants to drop with is Frolik? Even his kids must be embarrassed by him.

  • Pizanno

    Looks like we have six more Flames games this season. Not seeing how there can be more. Anaheim owns them. Chicago too skilled. It’s a shame as that ten gamer made me a believer. 2-6 last eight? Yikes.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Despite Burke’s babblings and bluster… the Flames have not handled well the games that get dragged into the muck. It gets them off their game. Bring on the Hawks… an Anaheim series does not bode well for this team.

    • McRib

      Yeah, every time we try to beat one of the “big bad California teams” at their own game we end up losing, as we clearly lose focus trying to beat Anaheim in a toughness competition.

      Burke should be preaching discipline and sticking to our game before playing Anaheim, but he won’t because he is a old fashioned goon. Anaheim is better at this game (toughness combined with execution) as they showed last night and have the previous 24 visits to the Toyota Centre, stop trying to beat them at their own game!!

  • Avalain

    You mentioned that it didn’t make sense to put out the 4th line at the beginning of the 2nd. I agree. GG also put the 4th line out after the Fowler injury which also doesn’t make sense considering everyone had an extended break, and again they were scored on as a result. Not smart.

    However, the Ducks may be worse off after this game if they lose Fowler long term.

  • Rocket66

    The more I think about it the more I want to see Chicago. It should be fast entertaining hockey. And the best part is it should expose how pathetic and stubborn this coaching staff is

  • ALL THE WAY IN

    I dislike Brouwer (as a hockey player) a lot! Things got mucky in the LA game and he was invisible, things got mucky again last night and again he disappeared. He needs to sit and they need to bring in Lazar. His contract is absurd for what he’s bringing to the table. At least Wideman had a couple of good years with the Flames before his contract:play became a problem, but Brouwer has been absolutely bruutal from the start. Oh ya… and definitely strip him of the “A”!