The Calgary Flames headed to Minnesota on Tuesday night to play the Wild. They played a superb first period, but they did not score. For the rest of the game, they were pretty good, but couldn’t bury enough of their chances. In a game that was rather sleepy for regulation and then really entertaining in an indecisive overtime period, the Flames were just unlucky enough to lose. They dropped a razor-thin 2-1 shootout decision to the Wild.
The Flames were all over Minnesota in the first period. They had lots of zone time but couldn’t get a ton on net, but they kept the Wild hemmed into their own end for the first sixth of the game – the Wild didn’t have first shot on goal until 10:21 in. In what became a theme for the night, the Flames had two power plays but couldn’t generate much offense. Immediately after their second unsuccessful PP, Matt Cullen scored off a goal-mouth scramble to make it 1-0 Wild. Shots were 10-4 Flames and scoring chances were 6-2 Flames.
The second period was more low-event, with both teams whiffing on chances but neither really generating high-danger chances. Late in the period the Flames managed to find an equalizer, as Micheal Ferland teed up a slapshot through traffic that deflected off a Wild defender and beat Alex Stalock – he replaced an injured Devan Dubnyk after the first period – to make it 1-1. Shots were 10-10 and scoring chances were 6-5 Flames.
Nobody scored in the third period. It was 20 minutes of two teams who desperate want points trying not to lose. Minnesota had a big chance and Mike Smith made a big save. Micheal Ferland had a big chance and the puck glanced off the crossbar and into the referee’s ear in the corner. Shots were 7-4 Wild and scoring chances were 6-3 Wild.
Overtime solved nothing, though it was very entertaining. The Flames led in shots 3-1, and that doesn’t count two great chances for Sean Monahan that he whiffed on. It went to the shootout; Minnesota won 2-1 in that skills competition (Johnny Gaudreau scored for Calgary, Chris Stewart and Markus Granlund for Minnesota) and thus won the game 2-1.
Why The Flames Lost (In A Shootout)
In a really tight game, the Flames generated just two shots and three high-danger scoring chances on three power plays. That’s nuts, and their man advantages ended up giving momentum back to the Wild. They also just weren’t able to get enough good chances at five-on-five – they had three high-danger chances. It was a low-event game and they just couldn’t generate enough or bury enough good chances to tilt the game in their favour.
But don’t let their inability to win override one thing: this was another rock-solid effort in a string of them for the Flames, and they have points in four consecutive games. It could’ve been three wins in four games, but it’s a step in the right direction that they were in this one until the very end.
Monahan couldn’t bury anything tonight, but he was all around the net for much of the night. Gaudreau and Smith were also quite good.
The Turning Point
The Flames had a power play just over five minutes left in regulation, tied 1-1 on the road. They had good puck movement, but couldn’t score. With how tight the game was at that point, if they were going to win it probably would’ve had to be on that power play. They didn’t score and so they didn’t win.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
Glenn Gawdin had an assist in Swift Current’s 2-1 win over Prince Albert.
The Flames (16-12-3) head back to Calgary tonight. They’ll host the San Jose Sharks in a divisional clash on Thursday night.