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Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Flames Take A Point, Leave A Point In Pittsburgh

The Calgary Flames headed to the Steel City of Pittsburgh in desperate need of points. Playing against the defending (two-time) Stanley Cup champions, they looked very strong for big stretches of this game. But a combination of shaky defensive play and iffy goaltending conspired against them at key times in this game. They dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Flames got a key point in the Western Conference playoff race. But they left a crucial point on the table at a time where they cannot afford to do that, even against the defending champs.

The Rundown

Before the game was more than a few minutes old, the Flames were down two goals as the Penguins scored on their second and third shots on Jon Gillies. Off a botched puck retrieval on a Penguins dump-in, Chad Ruhwedel’s wrister from the point beat Gillies through traffic to make it 1-0. A little bit later, Gillies attempted to play the puck but he passed it right to Evgeni Malkin… who calmly skated to the front of the net and deposited it in the open cage to make it 2-0. But the Flames battled back. On a fourth line shift that resulted in several scoring chances, Mark Giordano battled to collect a loose puck then beat Tristan Jarry with a wrister inside the post to make it 2-1.

Before the period ended, Mikael Backlund undressed Kris Letang and Jarry with sweet dekes to tie the game at 2-2.

Shots were 14-9 Flames and scoring chances 13-8 Flames.

The middle frame was pretty even, with the Penguins slightly carrying play. The Penguins took the lead late in the period after Letang jumped into the rush on a three-on-two and beat Gillies with a wrist shot to make it 3-2. But the Flames battled back and tied it with two seconds remaining as TJ Brodie drove the net and shoveled the puck out front for Troy Brouwer’s tap-in to make it 3-3.

Shots were 10-7 Penguins, but chances were 7-4 Flames.

Neither team scored in the third period, though Gillies was nearly fooled by a 171-foot wrist shot by Olli Maatta… on a Flames power play. Shots were 12-9 Flames and chances 13-9 Flames, but they just couldn’t bury anything.

So it was off to overtime. The Flames had many chances, including a two-on-none rush where the puck rolled off Johnny Gaudreau’s stick and so his attempt missed the net. But the Flames had a defensive breakdown and Phil Kessel found a wide-open Justin Schultz for a tapper into an open net to win this one by a 4-3 score.

Shots 2-1 Flames in OT.

Why The Flames Lost (in OT)

The Flames were the better team overall and had a ton of chances. But in a few situations – the Flames power play and a few moments early in the game – they weren’t very good. Their defensive zone scheme is still a bit of a yard-sale, and their power play was pretty dodgy.

And it must be said: Gillies was really shaky tonight and it seemed to make the other five guys on the ice with him a bit jumpy.

Red Warrior

Backlund was very good, especially with his awesome first period goal, so he gets the nod. But Brouwer also had perhaps his best game in months and he was well-deserving of the ice-time he got as the game wore on.

The Turning Point

The Flames never led in this game, so the game-clinching goal almost seemed inevitable.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Stajan 70.4 75.0 1.325
Brouwer 69.7 14.3 2.515
Giordano 68.8 47.4 2.425
Lazar 66.7 75.0 0.640
Hamilton 63.8 47.4 0.975
Frolik 62.1 33.3 1.275
Backlund 60.9 33.3 1.410
Hamonic 57.5 25.0 1.500
Gaudreau 56.8 43.8 0.525
Tkachuk 56.0 33.3 0.640
Monahan 55.9 43.8 0.095
Hathaway 55.6 60.0 0.125
Brodie 54.1 25.0 1.150
Bennett 52.2 60.0 -0.015
Stone 47.8 77.8 -0.075
Jankowski 46.2 60.0 -0.230
Kulak 44.0 77.8 -0.175
Ferland 36.8 69.2 -0.625
Gillies -0.200
Rittich

This and That

Micheal Ferland and Troy Brouwer swapped spots late in the second period, with Brouwer joining Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on the top line. Ferland was minus-two in his return to action and generally wasn’t great.

The Drive to 96 (Points)

The Flames now have 74 points with 15 games remaining. They need 22 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 11-4-0 record – to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Scoreboard Watching

The Dallas Stars are hosting the Ottawa Senators tonight. At time of this writing, the Stars have a 1-0 lead.

Up Next

The Flames (32-25-10) head off to scenic Buffalo. They practice tomorrow and then play the Sabres on Wednesday night.

  • I should be GM

    Once again it was a clinic in coaching by Gully. Only he can promote a 5th line guy to the 1st line and almost pull out a win! Of course he was going for the win in overtime. The third period was typical Gully boring play for a tie hockey. Maybe he didn’t look at the standings lately. Because if he would have, he would have seen that a single point does nothing for us.

    Also, it was of interest that when we got down by two goals early, Gully activated one of the most mobile defences in the league. Amazing how when we played offensively we actually scored!

    Gully’s got my vote for coach of the year all the way!!!

    • trox

      Exactly what I noticed re: activating the d. Once we were down 2, our d started jumping up in the play and–lone behold–we were dominant. Why do we keep a leash on them until we are losing? It also makes me wonder what the roots of Brodie’s issues are. We’ve all seen that he is an elite skater who is very good at jumping up into the rush. Maybe the problem is that Gulutzan is trying to force a square Brodie into a round peg by trying to make a responsible stay-at-home d-man out of him? I either case, I really hope we don’t trade him until we see how he looks for 40 games under a new coach.

  • Mickey O

    Overall, one of their best games of the year…but only a point out of the game.
    But it would be great to hit the net every once in a while; score on a breakaway; and get legitimate goaltending.

    • Stockton's Finest

      I missed the game (heard 3rd period on XM on the way home) but have to ask: on the 4 goals, where did Gillies get beat? Or do I even need to ask that?

      • Mickey O

        The first was a double tip glove side, not much chance.
        Second was a panic move pass from behind the goal to Malkin, big mistake.
        The 3rd was a slapper by Letang that he realistically could have come out further and stopped.
        The OT goal he had no chance, he had to respect Kessel’s shot.

        I would have pulled him after the second goal 3:05 in. He almost let in a bouncer from the Pens goal line. Gillies was either playing on his knees, or on one leg. He was off balance all game due to horrible positioning and puck tracking. Hopefully even GG will have seen the light and throws Rittich in net.

        What looked to be depth in the pipeline in net, now looks shaky at best. Oh well.

        • Stockton's Finest

          Just curious, but have you noticed Rittich’s game has gone to pot as soon as Gillies arrived? Coincidence or is it the amount of games being played?

          • GetOn'Em

            Yes it has. Gillies will be fine, he was thrown in the fire in a horrible situation where the team was in “musy win” games and the TEAM sh*t the bed. If Gillies had have been given the back up position from the get go he would have been prepared. I still believe Gillies is the future for Flames goaltending.

        • cberg

          The second goal was a bit of indecision, but he got it going high in the air along the boards. Malkin made a great play knocking it down and then it was an open net…

      • BendingCorners

        A little bit of everything; one screen tip stick side, one out of net experience, one glove side, another out of net experience but this one because of bad coverage and good passing.

  • meat1

    We had a two man breakaway in overtime with Gaudreau and Monaghan in all alone. We missed the net. Enough said. They needed these two points. Gillies wasn’t great but Johnny Hockey gets paid a lot of money to score in that spot.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Well, we just burned our only OT/SO Loss… Now we just have to go 11-4 and its all gravy …. I can’t wait to see that!
    Go Flames Go… Gully for the Jack Adams!

  • RKD

    Amazing move by Backlund on that goal, it’s too bad such great season by Gaudreau is being wasted. We need an upgrade in the coaching staff. We traded Iggy 4 years ago, how long to rebuild? The backups aren’t getting job done and the team has no identity. Playing better than the other opponent and losing is like getting a participation ribbon.

  • Skylardog

    4th line had jump and got us back into this one when we were down 2-0. The 3rd line is basically doing nothing. No good minutes, but really no bad minutes either. We need them to be the difference makers. It would take the pressure off the top line, and get them some space to operate. Right now the teams we are playing gotta be thinking, “If you shut down Mony’s line you got the game in the bag.”

  • Big T-Rev

    I haven’t missed a game since the 04 run, but I’m ready to tune out for the remainder of this season. I don’t even know what I’m watching anymore. I’ve never seen such a frustrating brand of hockey in my life, and it looks like the players feel the same way. Every game is just a comedy of errors. At least when Hartley was coaching the games were fun to watch win or lose. Even the games we win this year I come away feeling …..meh

    • CalgaryBornandRaised

      Definitely the most frustrating part of the Flames is the what if, this team went to OT against the Cup champs twice this season, and probably should have beat them the second time last night, but this team is too much in it’s own head and we probably won’t make the playoffs, that is unacceptable, and we have too many players that the game has passed them by

      Part of me hopes they miss so Tre has a good reason to clean house and make some big changes

      • Bring back Darryl Sutter

        The one change needed is to bring Darryl back. He will whip Monahan and gaudreau into shape. Also he will be alot better at player usage than good ol gg.

  • Big T-Rev

    And if I hear GG talk about how we out chanced them in another post loss interview in going to put my foot through my TV. Take your corsi crap and shove it

  • Bring back Darryl Sutter

    Troy Brouwer scores a goal so let’s put him on the top line. Please god please bring Darryl back. At least Darryl can properly hold the team accountable

  • TheWheeze

    So many want to trade our highest scoring player for picks. How many first rounders do the flames have in the system now? How many are panning out? I rest my case…….

    • SgtRoadBlock

      Well look at it from this side, we have seen Johnny play on ever line 1 to 4 every game it seems ,So if we have that many holes in the Roster that he jumping from line to line, Would trading Johnny Fix some of them holes ? yes in the long run it would… Don’t hold on to him and turn this into Iggy 2.0

    • PlayitagainSam

      So many have spoke about a trade involving Taylor Hall. I’d move Gaudreau in a heartbeat. He is a game changer and he is in definite consideration for Hart Trophy at this moment.
      His mix of speed ,and power is exactly the player the Flames need.

  • Derzie

    If you utter the word ‘trade’ and ‘Gaudreau’ in the same sentence, you need to rethink your understanding of sports. Because you are not winning and because players can’t do it by themselves, don’t pick on the best players. It is EXACTLY what Edmonton did. Every player who was any good has been traded away. They run their stars out of town under the illusion that they’ll get a kings ransom in return. Stop it. You trade away players you don’t need. You trade away extra depth. You don’t trade away your core unless it is a hockey trade with equal players going each way. Not for damn draft picks.