And there went the last of the Flames’ leeway.
From hero to six goals against
Sometimes, bad goals will happen. It’s a thing. Even the best goalies in the world will be victimized by them. The Flames should have come out of the first period with a lead – they were the better team to start – but at the very least, they tied things up.
And then they took the lead.
Gave it up.
Took the lead again
Gave it up.
Fell behind further 90 seconds later.
And pretty much were just done to start the third period.
The game prior was a goaltender’s duel between Mike Smith and Cam Talbot; this one was Martin Jones having a shaky start, the Flames not capitalizing on it, and then Smith just completely bottoming out. His team gave him offence and even looked like they had quite a bit going for them; he sucked the wind out of their sails.
Were all of the goals on Smith? No, absolutely not – but the first goal against should have never happened. The third was pretty bad. The fourth was a wide open rebound. The fifth was just atrocious, and it should have been David Rittich coming out to start the third period, though the sixth goal against was more a team-wide failure than on Smith alone.
There’s only so many times a team can score to come back in it only to fall behind mere minutes later. Three goals against in just under seven minutes that not only saw the precarious one-goal lead evaporate, but saw a multi-goal lead established – that did them in. For as much as the Flames may have tried, there was never going to be a happy ending for them once they faced a three-goal deficit. The 19 minutes with which to work wasted away easily, one successful early pull of the goalie aside.
They gave up. By the time they wanted to try again, they were facing a team better than them that knew how to just coast away.
The second half of the second period can’t happen.
This and that
Kris Versteeg is alive! He played 11:01 in his return to action, including 29 seconds on the powerplay. Curtis Lazar was the only Flame who played less than him. His shift lengths were about in tune with his linemates’ – Versteeg averaged 38 seconds a shift while Mark Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway averaged 40 seconds – and his minutes went up as the game went along. He had a pretty blank stat line otherwise, but hopefully this was a good adjustment game for him.
Dougie Hamilton led the way with six shots on net; his 234 on the season is tied for second amongst defenders in the NHL and is far and away the best on the Flames; it’s absolutely mind boggling still that it took more than 50 games to get him on the top powerplay unit.
Speaking of the top powerplay unit, though… a 44-second 5-on-3 translated into absolutely nothing more than a display on perimeter passing. The Flames had the perfect chance to get the lead back and maybe even settle things down; instead, nothing. Their 17.5% powerplay is 24th in the NHL. They are fourth in the NHL in powerplay opportunities. What a complete waste.
The fourth line has been alright as of late. Nice goal from them. I dunno, but I guess it is a fair bit harder to get mad at them when everyone is failing so spectacularly.
Don’t be silly.
Although, say this for the Flames: if they had to lose any of these California games, it was probably best to lose to the Sharks. They’re further ahead than the Kings and Ducks, and are probably the least likely that the Flames will be able to catch. Not that they couldn’t have used those two points last night – they really, really need them to even attempt to keep pace – but of all the teams they’re chasing, the Sharks are too far ahead to be concerning.
That said, if that’s the kind of effort the Flames are going to put up against a superior opponent (re: non-lottery team) when they know their season is on the line, well, playoffs save face but what else would they really do for this group?
They had it, kind of like a seven-game winning streak. They lost it, kind of like a six-game losing streak. Welcome to the season.