98Mike Smith
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Wild spoil the Iginla party

Prior to Saturday night’s game, the Calgary Flames honoured their greatest player. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep the party going. The Flames dropped a close 4-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild before a jam-packed Scotiabank Saddledome crowd.

The Rundown

Despite sitting through a lengthy ceremony prior to puck drop, the Flames had a ton of energy early on. They couldn’t bury their chances, though, and the Wild did. Off an icing, the Flames won the defensive zone draw but TJ Brodie was muscled off the puck by Jason Zucker, who fed Eric Staal in the slot for a quick shot and a 1-0 Minnesota lead.

Austin Czarnik seemingly tied the game up midway through the first, jamming in a loose puck off an initial scoring chance from Sam Bennett. But the Wild challenged on the basis of goaltender interference and it was judged that Bennett’s contact with Devan Dubnyk impeded him so the Wild maintained their lead.

Shots were 14-5 Flames in the opening period, while scoring chances were 13-5 Flames.

After the Flames had a fruitless power play to open the second period, they handed the Wild an extended advantage after Garnet Hathaway was given a match penalty for smashing Luke Kunin’s face into the top of the Wild bench while avoiding a hit.

The Wild generated precisely one shot on the ensuing PP, which was negated when the Flames drew a penalty. The home side received a 23-second PP after Hathaway’s major expired, and Johnny Gaudreau found Sean Monahan at the top of the crease for a quick pass and tap-in to even the score at 1-1.

Shots were 14-7 Flames and chances 9-6 Flames in the second period.

The Wild took a lead early in the third period. Mike Smith was caught behind the net playing the puck. The Wild grabbed the loose puck, Smith was seemingly blocked in behind the net by Noah Hanifin, and after a scramble out front Matt Read poked the puck into the wide-open net to make it 2-1 for the visitors. It was on the first registered Minnesota shot of the period.

The Flames pressed, but Minnesota struck again. Rasmus Andersson whiffed on a puck at the point, which allowed Jordan Greenway to grab it and go into the Flames zone on a two-on-one. Bennett rushed back to break up the odd-man rush, but Ryan Suter snuck in as the trailer and beat Smith with a wrist shot to give the Wild a 3-1 lead.

But the Flames got one back with five minutes left in regulation. Travis Hamonic fired a shot at the net that found its way through traffic and just beat Dubnyk inside the far post to cut the Wild lead to 3-2.

That’s as close as the Flames got, though, as Ryan Donato put one between Smith’s wickets with a quick wrist shot late in the third to give the visitors a 4-2 edge. The Flames challenged on the basis of off-sides, but the challenge failed.

Why the Flames Lost

To be blunt: Minnesota’s goalie was better than Calgary’s. Dubnyk was busier and faced scarier chances, and Smith made more mistakes than his opposite number.

It’s a shame, though, as the Flames carried the balance of play for much of the game. They just couldn’t translate enough of that offensive zone time into goals.

Red Warrior

Bennett was superb in this game. He was engaged, physical and dangerous around the net. He had a chance lead to a disallowed goal and had another chance go off the post. If he had any luck, he would’ve had a couple goals.

The Turning Point

Smith’s puck-handling gaffe, and the ensuing goal, really sucked the air out of the building and out of the Flames’ sails. They had chances after that, but couldn’t get enough of them past Dubnyk to even things up.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Natural Stat Trick)

Player Corsi
Gaudreau 77.1 80.0 1.800
Monahan 76.5 80.0 2.315
Lindholm 71.4 80.0 0.770
Giordano 71.4 70.6 1.625
Jankowski 70.4 66.7 0.520
Frolik 70.0 60.0 0.685
Brodie 68.8 75.0 0.950
Czarnik 66.7 70.0 0.375
Andersson 64.3 80.0 0.550
Tkachuk 60.6 66.7 0.650
Hanifin 60.0 42.9 0.875
Hamonic 59.5 37.5 1.275
Fantenberg 59.3 80.0 0.350
Bennett 55.6 75.0 -0.075
Backlund 51.9 66.7 0.590
Mangiapane 46.7 33.3 0.075
Ryan 42.9 25.0 0.135
Hathaway 22.2 0.0 -0.400
Smith -1.100

This and That

Monahan’s second period goal was his 30th of the season. He’s scored 30+ goals on three different occasions in his career.

Up Next

The Flames (41-17-7) are off tomorrow, then host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.

  • redhot1

    How was Donato’s shot a “quick wrister”? He wound up a slapshot in the middle of the rink. I see this mistake often in these writeups, is it just a matter of lazy editing ? Or are we not sure of the difference between a slapshot and a wrist shot?

  • Hockey4life

    This loss is on Smith no doubt about it. But there’s a lot of other things that have changed since the top line was on fire. Their commitment to the defensive side of the game has gotten way worse. Johnny floats in the middle of the zone waiting for someone else to do the dirty work along the boards. Then when he gets it he flies into the zone and button hooks back to the blue line and gives up the puck. When he was having success he was driving deep into the zone and dare I even say it, crashing the net. Oh yah, he was also shooting the puck rather then continually pass into nomansland. Then there’s Lindholm who has been the most consistent of the 3 but he’s been missing the net a ton. And Monahan basically stands in one spot waiting for a pass even if he’s covered. And Tkachuk used to work his ass off along the boards and behind the net, keeping the puck in deep, but lately he’s throwing it back to the D when they are already covered and it’s leading to major turnovers. The 4th lines been the best one because they work their asses off, forecheck hard, backcheck hard, keep the puck in deep and they shoot when the opportunity is there.

    • LannyMac

      That was an excellent assessment H4 life. And how do we summarize that assessment and believe me when I read what you wrote says exactly this. The 2018/19 Calgary Flames are a very soft team and I can GAURANTEE you Dallas or Minny know that and will play us accordingly

    • Speed Kills

      Absolutely 1000% Hockey4life…. Now is this “play style” dictated by the players? or the coach? Because right now the top line seems to be playing GG Hockey and it is Corsi-Ugly as in good corsi but, P-Poor actual real results! And Someone Please Coach #13~#23 How to Defend~!

  • Off the wall

    I’m pretty sure we dominated Minnesota. So there’s that.

    If we meet them in the playoffs, I’ll be sure to set the PVR.
    My heart couldn’t take the sheer lull of inactivity. I’d need a defibrillator just to wake me up.

    Boooooring is to nice of a word for Minnesota Wild hockey.

    How about burning, caustic, distasteful, extremely ,filthy, gastric, hurtful, inducing , joyless, killing, listless moments of time.

    I stopped there. I realized that was sufficient enough..

  • smatic10

    1st Minny goal is on Monny. You could see him looking behind him so the attempt to be defensively aware was there but you can’t go coasting for the puck like that. But overall he looked more engaged than previous games and I liked seeing that. Fans can complain all they want but he’s our number 1 center and he’s one of the best around the net from 15 feet, he’ll be lethal in the playoffs if he can get his game going.

    I’m surprised no one’s talking about the 2nd Minny goal as much. Smith…….what on Earth was that?? Dude, get back into your net. You’re the best goalie in the league at handling the puck and it helps out the defense a lot but once the defenseman has the puck or is battling for it….GET BACK IN THE NET. ESPECIALLY IN A TIED GAME IN THE THIRD. You are the last person on the ice that needs to be setting picks for the dmen. That was such an odd sequence. Hrudey tried saying that he got caught up or was being blocked behind the net, but he had more than enough room to get out of the scuffle and into his net.

    I said it even during Smith’s recent good string of play that Ritter should still be the guy for the playoffs. He plays a much more low risk game. Sure, he has his bad games but how many absolute gaffes has he had this season? 1 or 2? Maybe 3 tops. Smith easily has more than 10.

    The Donato goal was a frustrating one to give up too but it’s a little more understandable. Dude has a wicked shot and sometimes those are unpredictable.

    Get Ritter in there and ride him for a few games. If Ritter got pulled after a couple bad ones in a game, Smitty should be benched for a couple games after that performance.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      On that second goal, why didn’t Peters throw the flag screaming goaltender interference? Clearly, Smitty’s ability to stop the puck was impeded by Hanifin. Goal should never have counted.

      • Beer League Coach

        Brain failure by the goaltender. Smith often comes out to play the puck and then stands right over the puck impeding his defenseman from taking the puck in stride and moving it up ice. He needs to be smarter when he comes out. Stop the puck and set it up for the D to pick it up on the fly and then get back into his crease and stay out of the way of his team mates. The D man should not have to stick handle his way around Smitty before making a play with the puck.

  • Flamesfanforever

    Had to double check make sure I wasn’t on Oilernation with all these comments. Long ceremony, they just got back from a long eastern trip… 7 game win streak prior to this. One thing about over achieving is the set backs. FLAMES are still first in the West. Did anyone really expecting them to be where they are at this point in the season… It’s only one lose. Sometimes gotta give credit to where it is do. The wild played a near perfect road game. Such a frustrating game to watch. Hats of to them.

    • Canucks Suck

      yeah it just felt like minnesota wanted it more, sure the flames played better but they need to crank up the intensity and snuff out teams like minnesota.

  • The Sultan

    Not like the Flames made it hard on him tonight, but Dubnyk is the perfect example of a player/goalie who managed to salvage their career and go on to become pretty good as soon as they left that dumpster fire up North. Hall leaves and wins the Hart. Justin Schultz wins two Cups etc. Talbot looks like a different man in Philly. Good on Dubnyk, not saying he was on fire tonight but he was pretty decent which is a lot more than I can say for Smith.

  • Hockeysense9393

    Wow…1st loss in 8 games. Outplayed the opposition. Bad goaltending from the backup. The Sky Is Falling, The Sky Is Falling!!! On the wagon…off the wagon. This is quite comical actually reading some of these comments. Relax people, the Flames are still a couple years away from being like the Bolts, and they are already pretty damn good. Everybody talks like this is a Cup or Bust year and they didn’t even bother stacking up yet at the deadline. Fans need to relax a little and enjoy lol.

    • dontcryWOLF

      People just expected more on iggys night with a full house.

      They deserved to win in all areas. And would have, without Smith.

      My only other concern is the first line. Said it before, but still cant remember the last time they got a 5v5 goal. Dont think they had a single one in that 7 game win streak.

    • Director772

      All this whining about the best Flames team we have had pleasure to watch in a very long time..come on enjoy it.
      Guess what they are going to lose some games now and then are you going to lose it every time?

  • Day1-Cfan

    This is the team we get for the rest of this year. Going to have to just bite the tongue and get through it. I never expected us to be where we are right now, did anyone else?
    We are going to the playoffs with a good team minus a couple of parts. This is where we get some experience, which will always be a good thing.
    Mr. Red Light will be gone after the season ends, so that piece of the puzzle will be replaced with one that hopefully fits properly. I am liking that.
    Lets just keep plugging away and we are going to get the answers we need to get to the next level.
    Chill out a bit and enjoy the ride the boys have taken us on this year, it’s all a bonus from here!

  • Skylardog

    I love game score. The “Red Warrior” was one of only 2 skaters that had negative numbers, the other got booted midway through.

    However, it got Smith right as a negative. But only a -1.100?

    • Derzie

      The game scores are pretty accurate. Bennett did some things that caught one’s eye (obviously Pike’s) but overall he got beat up. I have yet to see game scores vary significantly from on ice results. Smith didn’t give up 6. He just stunk when it mattered.

  • Budgie

    Smith overplays the puck, he does pass well too, if he makes an error it is costly. Other players can make awful passes but it isn’t so glaring and damaging compared to Smith’s errors. Gadreau for instance made some awful passes and has been stripped of the puck resulting in a good scoring chance for the opposition, however, he makes up for it overall. Smith’s bad passes or being caught out of position are easily singled out for condemnation, other players do the same but Smith could avoid his errors by playing more conservatively. He could have let Hannifin take over and return to his crease but he tried to win the puck with his big paddle and Calgary was then up the creek, the momentum shifted.

    • Beer League Coach

      Smith must be smarter when he comes out to play the puck. Set it up for his D man and then get the !?ck out of the way and let the skaters do their thing.