The Calgary Flames came back home on a three-game winning streak despite playing some pretty uneven hockey over the past while. In an odd turnaround, the Flames played quite well for much of two periods against the Ottawa Senators but just weren’t rewarded en route. And then the wheels fell off in the third, en route to a 6-0 loss on Friday night at the Saddledome.
To borrow a phrase: it was going so well, until it wasn’t.
The opening period was basically a Globetrotters game, with the Senators playing the role of the Washington Generals. The Flames had a ton of zone time and scoring chances, but basically did everything but score. With just 45 seconds left in the frame, Ottawa got their first scoring chance. It went in. The Stone-Bartkowski pairing was caught sleeping a bit, allowing Cody Ceci to sneak in, take a pass from Tom Pyatt and beat Mike Smith up high to make it 1-0. Shots were 9-6 Flames and scoring chances were 8-1 Flames.
Ottawa was a little bit better in the second, but power plays were the tale of the period. Midway through the period, the Flames had a power play (after a few shifts of good offensive pressure) but couldn’t score. Mikael Backlund was dinged for a double-minor for high sticking and the Flames killed it off – even generating a couple scoring chances late. But Dougie Hamilton took a penalty just seconds after Backlund’s was killed off and Derick Brassard beat Smith from the left point with a hard wrister just as the penalty expired to make it 2-0 Senators. Shots were 11-8 Ottawa, but scoring chances were 10-4 Flames.
The Senators began the third on the power play. They scored off a nice one-timer by Mike Hoffman off a face-off win in the Flames zone to make it 3-0. From there, the Flames slumped and the Senators padded their edge a little bit. Mark Stone scored off a big rebound in the slot (and some soft defensive coverage, as he was left unattended out front) to make it 4-0 and Ryan Dzingel scored on a two-on-one rush off a nice feed from rookie Thomas Chabot to make it 5-0. Eddie Lack came in for the final 12 minutes in relief of Smith and he gave up his first goal as a Flame. Chris Wideman scored on a late power play to make it 6-0. Shots were 11-8 Ottawa, scoring chances were 8-3 Flames.
Why The Flames Lost
When the Flames were good, they weren’t quite good enough to translate zone time into good scoring chances (or good scoring chances into goals). And when the Flames weren’t good, they were quite bad. They seemed to have a knack for taking a slew of penalties at precisely the right time, and they handed a ton of momentum – and scoring chances – to the Senators. The visitors capitalized, often.
Let’s give a nod to the guys that weren’t on for any even-strength goals against: Kris Versteeg, Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan, Jaromir Jagr and Micheal Ferland. The 3M line was, overall, the best Flames group so they get the Red Warrior nod overall, though.
The Turning Point
The successful four-minute penalty kill really should have given the Flames a boost. But Hamilton went to the box 31 seconds later, which gave the Senators a second chance to take advantage. That goal, along with their third goal to open the third, shut the door on the Flames tonight and really took the fight out of the gentlemen in red.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
Tyler Parsons made his pro debut for Kansas City. He made 39 saves in a 5-3 win over the Tulsa Oilers to kick off the ECHL regular season.
Matthew Phillips had a goal and an assist (getting him up to 21 points) in an 8-5 Victoria loss to Spokane. Nick Schneider made 31 saves in a 4-3 Hitmen win over Kelowna. Dillon Dube had zero points. Adam Ruzicka with goal and assist in Sarnia’s 8-1 win over Mississauga.
How’d Jagr Do?
Jagr was as the Flames were. He was good in the first half of the game and created chances. He was decidedly less good in the second half. Overall, he played 13:27, was even and had a minor penalty (which led to a power play goal against).
Do they feel they did enough to generate good scoring chances?
“I felt when we put the puck in their zone and played behind their D we did. That’s when we generated. And they got the momentum when they got some power plays. They weren’t scoring early on their power plays but they were getting chances and getting momentum, and then they got one and got another one. It’s a tough team to chase the game against. We opened up a little too much in the third and they picked us apart when we took too many unnecessary chances.” – Flames captain Mark Giordano.
“You know what, we only had two chances with all that zone time. We only had two chances after the first period, maybe three if you count one shot from the point that we kinda deflected a little bit. We went into this game thinking the chances were gonna be tight, it’s not gonna be a ton, but you take seven penalties, 13-plus minutes of power play time, it’s gonna cost you.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan.
The Flames (3-2-0) are off to Vancouver immediately. They play the Canucks tomorrow, hoping to get back to their winning ways.