The Calgary Flames were pretty good on Saturday night at the Saddledome as they hosted the Minnesota Wild. They played well with the puck, for the most part. They managed to stay out of the box, for the most part. They played a solid game, for the most part. Unfortunately, a few momentary lapses led to a pair of goals by the Wild and, in a tight game, spelled the difference.
The Flames dropped their fourth game of the season, and third at home, losing to Minnesota by a 4-2 score.
The Flames looked a lot better in the first period than they did against Carolina – bearing in mind that they were playing a team that lost the night before in Winnipeg and then hopped a plane to Calgary. They had a few first period power plays, generating three calls from moving their feet and looking strong on their first man advantage but less so on the other two. Neither team scored in the first, but the Flames were the better team. Shots were 18-8 Flames and scoring chances were 11-4 Flames.
The home side was back on their heels a bit in the second as the Wild came out of the locker room with some jump. That jump drew a pair of minors to Michael Stone and Troy Brouwer and gave the Flames 1:18 of a two-man advantage to kill off. They managed to burn off 1:16 of it, but Chris Stewart got own rebound with two seconds left in 5-on-3 and beat Smith short-side to make it 1-0. Calgary found their legs after that goal, though, and had a few nice scoring chances as the period wore on. The Flames finally hit the scoreboard with 27.5 seconds remaining in the period: T.J. Brodie’s dump-in was played by Alex Stalock but his pass to a teammate was intercepted by Troy Brouwer, who found Sean Monahan in the slot for a tap-in to make it 1-1.
Monahan goal pic.twitter.com/VDrAcm9Jub
— steph (@myregularface) October 22, 2017
The Wild challenged the goal on the basis of an off-side, but the challenge was unsuccessful (and the Wild got a minor penalty). Shots were 13-8 Minnesota, but scoring chances were 9-8 Flames.
Calgary opened the third on a power play and stretched it to a two-man advantage after Johnny Gaudreau was slashed on a rush into the Wild zone. On the ensuing five-on-three, Kris Versteeg drove the net and put his own rebound past Stalock to make it 2-1. The Flames pressured after that, but couldn’t bury any chances. Midway through the third, Ryan Suter beat Smith with a wrister off the rush to make it 2-2. Everyone backed into the slot, making tracking the puck extremely tough for Smith and Hamonic inadvertently screened his goaltender. Jared Spurgeon made it 3-2 1:35 later with a slapper from the faceoff dot that beat Smith just over the shoulder.
Spurgeon goal pic.twitter.com/ETGd9t5Dle
— steph (@myregularface) October 22, 2017
The Flames had a late power play and couldn’t score. They pulled Smith for the extra attacker and Daniel Winnik iced it with an empty-netter to make it 4-2.
Why The Flames Lost
They played a pretty good 50 minutes of hockey, but unfortunately they needed to play a good 60 to capture any points. They got a bit too comfortable with the lead and a bit too casual in their own end. It cost ’em.
Let’s go with T.J. Brodie, who played just shy of a half-hour (28:52) and ran the show offensively for much of the game. He had a pair of assists and just generally looked very good.
But a lot of players looked good tonight. Following the game, Glen Gulutzan said he thought it was the team’s best game of the season.
The Turning Point
The Suter goal to tie things up toppled over the apple cart. The Flames were coasting to that point – almost to a fault – and the tying goal sent them reeling for a few minutes. After they regained their composure, they were down by a goal and chasing.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
There was a lot of prospect action tonight:
- The Heat got goals from Garnet Hathaway (two), Morgan Klimchuk, Cody Goloubef, Tyler Wotherspoon and Marek Hrivik, 22 saves from Jon Gillies and an assist from Mark Jankowski to continue his point streak en route to a 6-3 Stockton win over San Diego.
- Tyler Parsons made 43 saves in a 3-2 Kansas City victory over Fort Wayne, who beat them 8-2 just a night prior.
- Adam Ruzicka had a goal and an assist in a 7-2 Sarnia victory over Barrie.
- Matthew Phillips had his 11th goal (and 28th point) of the season in Victoria’s 4-2 loss to Brandon.
- Juuso Valimaki had an assist in a 6-3 Tri-City win over Kamloops.
This And That
The Flames video crew designed their own Saturday Night LIVE style intro. It was awesome.
Live from Calgary, it's Saturday Night! pic.twitter.com/crEiBzfguu
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) October 22, 2017
Jaromir Jagr left the game with 5:57 left in the first period with a lower body injury. When asked after the game, Gulutzan said he hadn’t heard anything about Jagr’s status.
Brett Kulak played in his first game of the season, getting 8:25 of ice-time on the third pairing with Michael Stone. Gulutzan said that Kulak had a good game by his estimation.
“The league is unforgiving, and it’ll put you in its place. And four-and-four is probably our record with the way we’ve played. And tonight I felt we could’ve deserved a better fate, but we didn’t and we are where we are.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan assesses his team’s first eight games.
“First one’s tough, made a good shot, kinda used [Hamonic] there as a screen. Third one just gotta be stopped. Plain and simple, gotta be stopped. Especially in close games, you’ve just gotta make those saves and tonight it didn’t happen and we lost because of it.” – Flames goaltender Mike Smith on the tying and go-ahead goals by Minnesota.
The Flames (4-4-0) hit the road now, as they play the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday before turning home for a game on Friday against Dallas.