The Calgary Flames headed into San Jose to face the Sharks for their second game in a back-to-back stretch on Sunday night. The Sharks weren’t great, but the Flames lacked jump and execution en route to a 3-1 loss to San Jose.
Mike Smith made the first save of the game, but he allowed a goal on the second shot he faced. Off a defensive breakdown at the blueline the Flames failed to clear the zone, allowing Evander Kane time to get a shot off from a faceoff dot that beat Smith to make it 1-0 Sharks. The game was a minute old.
The Flames struggled to generate much for the remainder of the period. Shots were 12-8 Sharks and scoring chances 9-6 Sharks.
The Sharks made it 2-0 in the second period off another defensive lapse by the Flames: Noah Hanifin and Mikael Backlund didn’t chase Kane behind the Flames net. That gave him time to put a pass through Backlund’s coverage right to Joonas Donskoi, whose wrister beat Smith to double the lead.
But the Flames responded back before the end of the period. They killed off a Mark Jankowski penalty and as Jankowski headed towards the Flames bench Erik Karlsson blew a tire in the neutral zone. Jankowski collected the puck, fed a pass to Sean Monahan and Monahan’s wrister beat Martin Jones to cut the lead to 2-1.
— Sportsnet 960 (@Sportsnet960) November 12, 2018
Shots were 11-8 Sharks and chances 15-3 Sharks.
The third period was quite back and forth, but the Sharks defended fairly well. Sam Bennett generated a penalty shot opportunity with 7:38 left in regulation but couldn’t beat Jones.
There were a few missed penalty calls here and there, but the most frustrating for the Flames was a missed delay of game call with 1:05 remaining after Kane swatted the puck out of mid-air into the crowd. It wasn’t called and a few seconds later Joe Pavelski added an empty-netter to make it a 3-1 final.
Shots were 14-6 Flames and chances were 8-4 Flames.
Why the Flames Lost
The Flames just couldn’t get enough pucks and bodies in front of Jones to make the game close. They got a lot of shots on net, but didn’t generate very many secondary chances or redirections.
The team, as a whole, seemed a step behind the pace tonight and shortening the bench in the third period didn’t do a lot to help that. Their key players just didn’t have enough jump in their step to be difference-makers against a rested Sharks squad.
Smith needed to have a good showing tonight, if only for his sanity, and he was extremely sharp after the first San Jose goal. Bennett was arguably the next-best player, generating a ton of shots and chances when he was on the ice.
The Turning Point
Donskoi’s goal doubled the lead and made the climb back a little too steep for the Flames to muster.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.Hockey)
This and That
As you’d expect, Bill Peters shortened his bench in the third period. Austin Czarnik and James Neal were benched, Bennett was bumped to the second line to play with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund, and Michael Frolik slid down to the third line to play with Derek Ryan and one of Garnet Hathaway and Jankowski.
The Flames allowed 12 high-danger scoring chances, the first time they’ve let the opposition hit double digits since their 9-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins a few weeks back.
The Flames (10-7-1) head home tonight. They’re off tomorrow, then prepare to host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.