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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Blood in the water

The Calgary Flames made their lives much more difficult as they try to hunt down a playoff spot with their performance at the Scotiabank Saddledome this evening. In a game that saw the lead change hands multiple times in the second period, the Flames weren’t able to turn zone time and scoring chances into goals and the San Jose Sharks were. A four-goal performance by Evander Kane (and four unanswered goals) paced the visitors to a 7-4 victory.

The Flames aren’t eliminated from the post-season by any stretch, but their margin for error is now razor-thin.

The Rundown

The visitors opened the scoring with an odd goal. Evander Kane’s wrist shot from just inside the Flames blueline was slightly deflected by Dougie Hamilton’s attempted stick-check, but it dropped and eluded Mike Smith’s glove to make it 1-0. (All due respect to Smith, it was a shot from 50 feet out.) But the Flames answered back before the end of the period. Matt Stajan dumped the puck into the offensive zone and the fourth line went to work retrieving the puck, eventually allowing Curtis Lazar to find Troy Brouwer alone in the slot for a one-timer that made it 1-1.

Shots were 9-4 Flames and scoring chances were 8-6 Flames.

The Flames took the lead early in the second period off another nice puck retrieval shift, this time from their third line. Kris Versteeg and Garnet Hathaway did some plumber work in the corner, allowing a quick pass from the corner to Mark Jankowski for a quick wrister and a 2-1 lead.

But the lead only lasted for just over four minutes, as Kane tied the game with his second goal of the contest with a nice tip of a Dylan DeMelo point shot to make it 2-2. (This was right after Kane nearly scored while out-muscling T.J. Brodie for a puck.) The Flames regained the lead with a gorgeous individual effort from Johnny Gaudreau. Left all alone in the Sharks zone against all five Sharks – and their goalie – seemingly every defender thought he’d go for a pass. Instead, he wandered into the slot and beat Jones with a nifty wrister to make it 3-2.

But just over a minute later, the Sharks tied it up – again. Kevin Lebanc beat Smith with a bad angle shot from below the circles – from 40 feet out along the boards – to make it 3-3. Gaudreau generated a couple penalty calls in succession, resulting in just over three minutes of power play time (and 44 seconds of a two-man advantage). But the Flames couldn’t score, and Kane completed the hat trick to bury a rebound to make it 4-3 and Tomas Hertl deflected in a rebound 62 seconds alter to make it 5-3. Shots were 10-10 but the Sharks out-chanced the Flames 10-7.

Mike Smith’s night ended early in the third period, after Kane scored his fourth of the game on a nice redirection of a Pavelski slap-pass that went through Chris Tierney to make it 6-3. Micheal Ferland scored on a rebound with David Rittich pulled for an extra attacker with just under six minutes remaining, but Eric Fehr added an empty netter to make it a 7-4 final. Shots were 13-10 Flames, but scoring chances were 10-7 Sharks.

Why The Flames Lost

Tell me if this sounds familiar: the Flames had a ton of chances and a ton of momentum, but couldn’t translate that into goals. A couple goals went the other way, and they just couldn’t put the ketchup back in the bottle from there.

Usually the Mikael Backlund line is great at shutting down the top guns from the other team. But between Smith allowing a couple softies and some defensive lapses, the 2M (and Bennett) line ended up on the ice for three Sharks goals. When your shutdown guys can’t close a door and your goaltender can’t bail them out, it’s tough to win.

Red Warrior

Stajan continues to be a steady force on the fourth line. He set up a goal and won 7 of 9 faceoffs, so let’s give it to him.

The Turning Point

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Monahan 60.7 80.0 0.800
Hamilton 60.0 85.7 1.100
Giordano 59.5 85.7 0.450
Hamonic 56.8 81.8 0.400
Frolik 56.4 90.9 0.000
Backlund 56.4 90.9 0.180
Bennett 56.4 90.9 -0.040
Gaudreau 56.3 80.0 1.400
Brodie 54.8 81.8 0.175
Ferland 53.3 80.0 1.650
Hathaway 45.0 20.0 0.675
Versteeg 45.0 20.0 -0.100
Jankowski 42.1 20.0 0.885
Lazar 39.1 16.7 0.725
Stajan 34.6 16.7 0.350
Kulak 33.3 25.0 -0.525
Brouwer 33.3 16.7 0.735
Stone 30.3 25.0 0.050
Smith -3.100
Rittich 0.700

This and That

Down in the NCAA, Harvard blew 3-0 and 4-1 leads against Clarkson and lost 5-4 in overtime. Based on their placement in the overall NCAA rankings, Harvard’s season is probably done. Adam Fox’s sophomore year is probably complete, and we’ll see whether or not the Flames take a stab at signing him.

Gaudreau jammed his wrist in a collision with Joakim Ryan in the first period, but stayed in the game. Smith took a puck to the neck in the second period, but also stayed in the game.

The Flames had a lead for 5:45 of this entire game.

Quotable

“I look at it as the power play, the five on three, was an important piece for us. We could’ve gotten momentum there. Kind of the story is our power play isn’t really helping us when we need it most. It’s scored at times, but when you need to get in a game, or get up in a game, or get close in a game, it just hasn’t been as reliable.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his club’s special teams challenges.

The Drive to 96 (Points)

The Flames now have 80 points with 10 games remaining. They need 16 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 8-2-0 record – to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Elsewhere

Ottawa beat Dallas 3-2 in overtime. Nashville beat Colorado 4-2. Anaheim beat Detroit 4-2. The Flames got precisely zero help from the out-of-town scoreboard.

Up Next

The Flames (35-27-10) practice tomorrow, then fly to Vegas. They visit the Golden Knights in a Sunday afternoon game.

  • KeepitReal

    The score was deceiving IMHO. The game seemed low tempo, low intensity on the part of both teams. Smith, Hamonic & Hamilton misread the trainer’s memo – it said that a pregame nap is required. Not a mid game nap. Kane had way too much room to operate.

    Two word tip for the PP; one timer. Maybe that’s one word. I don’t know. All I know for sure is that if we have one, its rarely used on the PP or at any time in the game. How hard is that to do as an NHL’er??

    It was fun while it lasted.

  • Derzie

    The team’s identity is the coach. Play for the tie. Don’t get too high or low. Keep the corsi rollin with dump ins and perimeter shots. This was crystal clear very early and time has only made it evident to the doubters. Your move, management.

  • Dunk

    two years to figure out the power play. Watch Gio, With a 2 man advantage try to shoot through a defender. He should not be on power play. He can’t hit the net. Monahan needs someone to tee up the puck other wise he just turns it over. All we needed was a half ways decent power play and we would have won many more games…