The Calgary Flames returned home to the Scotiabank Saddledome after six games (and two weeks) on the road. They might want to play the remainder of their games on the road, because they were uneven in a 6-3 loss to the visiting Florida Panthers on Saturday night. The Flames finally got some offense out of their power play, powered by Dougie Hamilton, but they were out-scored 4-1 at even strength in a game they never led.
On Saturday, the Fancy Cats had themselves a fancy feast on the Flames.
The Flames had a strong first period, but ended up giving up the first goal of the game on Florida’s first shot of the game. After a stretch of pressure in the Panthers end, Mike Matheson skated the puck out and beat David Rittich high glove-side with a quick wrister from just inside the blueline to make it 1-0. The home side woke up after that and played quite well. After Mark Giordano drew a penalty in the Flames zone, Dougie Hamilton beat Roberto Luongo with a shot from the high slot (with Matthew Tkachuk screening) to make it 1-1.
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) February 18, 2018
Shots were 11-9 Flames, scoring chances were 8-4 Flames.
The wheels fell off for the home side early in the second period. After giving up a goal on the first shot of the first period, Rittich was beaten on the second, third and sixth shots he saw in the second. On a man advantage that carried over from the end of the first, Vincent Trocheck skated into the Flames zone, dangled between two defenders and beat Rittich top-corner on his blocker side to make it 2-1 Florida. The Flames took another penalty when Michael Frolik took a high-sticking minor, and Evgenii Dadonov tipped home a Keith Yandle shot through traffic to make it 3-1 off the ensuing face-off. A few minutes later, the Flames got caught cheating as the team began heading up ice on an offensive rush… but the puck hadn’t left the zone yet, and Dadonov kept it in at the blueline and hucked it towards the slot, where Alexander Barkov tipped it through Rittich’s five-hole to make it 4-1. That spelled the end of Rittich’s night, as Jon Gillies came in for the remainder of the game.
The Flames got a bit closer, though, as Hamilton scored his second of the game wandering in from the point and scoring through traffic to make it 4-2.
Dougie with the big goal, off the end of the big stick pic.twitter.com/1oXBXjm7zj
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) February 18, 2018
Shots were 11-11, but chances were 9-4 Panthers.
Florida went up 5-2 a few minutes into the third off a slap shot from the point from Matheson with a ton of traffic in front of Gillies. Jared McCann beat Gillies with an unscreened slapper from the right point to make it 6-2 a little while later. Hamilton completed his first career hat trick with a weird goal, chucking the puck at the net from the corner and it ended up going in off Yandle to make it 6-3.
Dougie Hamilton hatty! 🎩🎩🎩 pic.twitter.com/aPqzVZcABe
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 18, 2018
Late on a power play, Curtis Lazar tipped a Brett Kulak shot but it was ruled no-goal due to a high stick. The Flames just couldn’t generate enough to get back into this one. Shots were 11-10 Flames and chances 8-5 Flames.
Why The Flames Lost
Let’s be honest here: the Flames were not particularly good tonight. They took dumb penalties. They made decisions with the puck that were quite odd. They were out-chanced and out-scored by the Panthers at even strength. They had to rely on their special teams to try to stay in the game, and their special teams merely broke even on the evening.
Florida got better goaltending than the Flames, for sure, but this was definitely a team loss for the gents in red.
Hamilton scored twice and was a constant sign of life for the home side. The rest of the team was, on the whole, generally poor and occasionally really bad.
The Turning Point
The Flames gave up three goals on six shots in the first few minutes of the second period. That effort chased Rittich from the game. They never got back into it.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
There were three fights between these old rivals: Ryan Lomberg fought Michael Haley, Travis Hamonic fought Colton Sceviour, and Garnet Hathaway fought Haley.
The Stockton Heat rode goals from Andrew Mangiapane and Spencer Foo to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Barracuda. Mason McDonald made 21 saves for the win.
The Drive to 96 (Points)
The Flames now have 68 points with 23 games remaining. They need 28 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 14-9-0 record to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.
The Flames (30-21-8) practice tomorrow, then prepare for an afternoon game on Family Day Monday when they host the Boston Bruins. (You might remember them from their game at TD Garden last week where the Flames got out-played for three periods.)