The Calgary Flames had a good start against Ottawa on Monday night. But they couldn’t maintain it, and some turnovers led to a tough night at the office as they dropped a 4-1 loss to the Senators in the finale of their road trip.
Neither team had a goal in the first period, but both teams had good looks. Both goaltenders – David Rittich for Calgary and Matt Murray for Ottawa – looked sharp. Shots were 12-7 Flames and scoring chances 6-6 in the first period.
The second period had many goals, but most of them were scored by Ottawa.
The Senators opened the scoring midway through the second period. Sam Bennett over-skated the puck in the neutral zone and the Senators headed the other way with numbers. Artem Anisimov fired a Tim Stutzle feed and it glanced off Nikita Nesterov and past Rittich. That made it 1-0 Senators.
Ottawa got another one a few minutes later. The Senators forced a turnover in their own zone and headed into the Flames’ end with numbers. The defenders backed in, so Drake Batherson took advantage of the space, skated to the top of the circles and beat Rittich with a wrist shot that made it 2-0 Senators.
Milan Lucic answered back later on during a Flames power play. Mikael Backlund used his speed to create some space, then dished off to Lucic. Lucic fired on Murray, then tucked his own rebound into the open net to cut Ottawa’s lead to 2-1.
The big man has 6⃣ on the year. pic.twitter.com/iY8aFUWlNe
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 2, 2021
But 1:24 after the Lucic goal, the Flames basically handed Ottawa another two goal lead. Rittich played the puck behind the net and got momentarily spooked by some pursuit by Ottawa. So he flung the puck blindly up the ice… right to Batherson, who spun and shot the puck past Rittich to increase Ottawa’s lead to 3-1.
Shots were 22-6 Senators and scoring chances 11-3 Senators in the second period.
The Flames pressed in the third period, but Ottawa did a great job defending – they held a Flames power play in the third period to zero shots. Colin White scored an empty net goal to make it 4-1 Senators. Evgenii Dadonov tipped a Thomas Chabot shot past Rittich a little later to make it 5-1 Senators.
Shots were 10-7 Flames and scoring chances 5-5 in the third period.
Why the Flames lost
The Flames were very much beauty and the beast in this game. They were sharp throughout big parts of the first period, getting zone time, being patient with the puck, and waiting for chances. But their puck management was a bit dodgy in the second and a trio of turnovers turned into a trio of goals for the Senators.
And when the Flames went down in this game, they seemed to become more passive defensively and a bit gun-shy offensively. As a result, the Flames spent the back half of this game chasing and never really seemed to get any offensive swagger going five on five.
Mark Giordano led the team in shots and seemed hell-bent on getting something going. It didn’t quite work out, but you can’t fault his effort.
The turning point
Ottawa’s third goal was a tough one to give up. Rittich has been so good for the Flames and has been one of the consistent bright spots during Jacob Markstrom’s injury absence, and it was tough to see a rare gaffe end up in the back of his net. It was even tougher to see the Flames give up seven consecutive shots after this goal before they answered back.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and that
This was Backlund’s 712th game with the Flames, passing Jim Peplinski for seventh on the franchise leaderboard.
The Flames are 1-10-0 when trailing after two periods.
The Flames (10-11-2) are headed home. They’re back in action on Thursday night at the Saddledome against a familiar foe: the Senators.