The Calgary Flames came to Las Vegas needing points to stay alive in the Western Conference playoff race. They came in having allowed momentary lapses and dips in their play in two previous games against the Vegas Golden Knights lead to losses. Well, it happened again on Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip. The Flames played a rock-solid first but allowed things to get away from them in the second period en route to a deflating 4-0 loss to the Golden Knights.
The Flames remain mathematically alive in the West, but they’ll need to run the table and get some significant help to make the playoffs. They’ll also need to overcome the mental hurdles and defensive lapses which have defined them through this second half slide.
The Flames played a very nice first period, aside from not getting a ton of Grade-A scoring chances. They out-shot the Golden Knights 20-6 and out-chanced them 8-7, but couldn’t bury anything.
Not being able to bury anything came back to haunt the Flames in the second period – as has been the tradition ’round these parts. Dougie Hamilton took a rather silly tripping minor in the defensive zone, leading to a Vegas power play. T.J. Brodie couldn’t track down a loose puck, allowing it to get cycled to the point. Colin Miller’s slapper redirected off Michael Stone and into the Flames net to make it 1-0. On the very next shift, Vegas scored again. Brodie was caught up ice trying to generate a pass and coughed it up. That led to a two-on-one rush against Travis Hamonic and William Karlsson one-timed a James Neal feed past Smith to make it 2-0. The Golden Knights scored twice more near the end of the period. Jonathan Marchessault was left all alone behind the Flames net after a defender fell down. That allowed him a clear passing lane to Karlsson in the near face-off circle and his unobstructed shot went in off Smith’s glove to make it 3-0. Finally, Hamonic was caught back on an odd-man rush on a four-on-four – the other three Flames were pressing to get a scoring chance – and Karlsson completed the hat trick with a nice wrister that beat Smith clean to make it 4-0. Shots were 13-8 Flames, chances were 8-5 Flames.
Nobody scored in the third period. The home side seemed content just to defend, and the visitors didn’t seem to have a lot of pep left in their steps. Shots were 13-9 Golden Knights, scoring chances were 7-7.
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. (I’m saying “tell me if this sounds familiar” because I literally copied these two sentences from the Friday recap.)
It’s a recipe they’ve followed a lot this season, and it’s a pretty crappy recipe for anything except crushing disappointment. The Flames didn’t do a ton to make Vegas’ lives miserable – Fleury saw a lot of the shots he faced – and the Flames couldn’t get a lot of secondary or tertiary chances.
Giordano had some energy and put pucks on net with frequency, so let’s give it to him.
The Turning Point
Two goals against in 51 seconds is a great way to lose momentum. The Flames never got back into it.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
T.J. Brodie was nailed with a big hit by Ryan Reaves midway through the second. He played four more shifts and then didn’t see the ice for the rest of the period. He left the game at that point with what the team is terming an “upper-body injury.”
The Flames allowed a hat trick to an opposing player for the second consecutive game.
The Flames have been out-scored by the Golden Knights 15-6 over three games.
The Drive to 96 (Points)
The Flames now have 80 points with 9 games remaining. They need 16 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 8-1-0 record – to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.
The Flames (35-28-10) immediately jet off to Glendale. They’ll play the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow evening.