The Calgary Flames were shut out on Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas and headed to Glendale, Arizona hoping for a better result. The good news is they scored. The bad news is just about everything else.
The same old habits crept back for the Flames against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. They led for precisely 123 seconds. They gave up goals on rough defensive plays. They couldn’t score a power play goal, or generate many chances. They looked every bit a lost and confused team, and they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Coyotes to effectively snuff out their playoff chances.
The Flames remain mathematically alive in the Western Conference playoff race, but their hopes are very much gone. Time of death: 10:38pm MT.
Neither team scored in the first period, though the Flames looked decent. They had two power plays but couldn’t generate much of anything. Shots were 15-9 Flames, scoring chances were 9-8 Flames.
The Coyotes opened the scoring early in the second period off a series of defensive lapses by the Flames. It was an even strength goal, but the low cross-zone lane was wide open and Clayton Keller found Richard Panik, who wristed one over Mike Smith from a bad angle to make it 1-0.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) March 20, 2018
The Flames answered back a little while later off a lengthy stretch of zone time in the Coyotes end (with multiple shots towards the net), as Dougie Hamilton pinched and beat Antti Raanta with a wrist shot glove-side to make it 1-1.
Hamilton nets the tying goal. pic.twitter.com/YzR2Tnfhcm
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) March 20, 2018
The Flames briefly took a lead later in the period off the rush. Johnny Gaudreau’s wrister was saved by Raanta, but Hamilton whiffed on the loose puck in the slot… which allowed Sean Monahan to bat it into the open net to make it 2-1. But Arizona tied things up just two minutes later, as Max Domi snatched a rather casual Micheal Ferland outlet pass attempt and waltzed in, beating Smith to make it 2-2. Shots were 14-12 Flames, but chances were 12-11 Coyotes.
The Flames pressed a bit in the early third period, but couldn’t score. With four minutes left in regulation, Oliver Ekman-Larsson beat Smith with a wrister from the top of the circles to make it 3-2 Arizona. The Flames pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, but couldn’t muster anything. Ekman-Larsson and Domi added empty-netters to ice it at 5-2. Shots were 12-4 Flames and chances were 8-5 Flames, but they lost once again.
Why The Flames Lost
Tell me if this sounds familiar: the Flames had a ton of chances and a ton of momentum early, 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 and Sunday recaps.)
The Flames keep doing the same things – good and bad – and things just keep going the same way. They’ve won 10 games since the Bye Week break… and lost 19. You can blame bounces or injuries or whatever, but that’s just not what playoff-bound teams do.
Hamilton had a goal and an assist, so let’s give it to him. Take a bow, Dougie.
The Turning Point
There’s a parallel universe where the Flames aren’t so casual with the puck in their own zone with a one-goal lead. They probably win this game. Instead, Ferland coughs it up inside his own blueline and Domi’s individual effort ties this thing up heading into the third period.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
With TJ Brodie out, Glen Gulutzan bumped Michael Stone to the second pairing and we had the ultra-rare “right shot/right shot” defensive pairing. Brett Kulak and Rasmus Andersson played on the third pairing.
It was game 999 for Matt Stajan.
The Drive to 96 (Points)
The Flames now have 80 points with 8 games remaining. They need 16 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 8-0-0 record – to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off. They’re mathematically eliminated when Anaheim wins five games or the Flames lose five games.
The Flames (35-29-10) limp home tomorrow. They host the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.