Calgary Flames Post-Game: California dreams get clobbered by the Kings
Photo credit:Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
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The Calgary Flames headed into Los Angeles on Monday night for a very important game with the Kings. A win would move the Flames within two points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Flames did not win. For the bulk of the contest they were the second-best team, ultimately losing to the Kings by an 8-2 score.
The Flames were fairly decent in the opening six or seven minutes. The Kings out-shot them 4-3 early on, but the only dangerous chance for either team was an odd-man chance for Mikael Backlund. Then the Kings found another gear and dominated the rest of the period with their fore-checking and smart puck management.
The Kings opened the scoring midway through the first period. MacKenzie Weegar challenged Carl Grundstrom at the blueline, but the Kings threw the puck deep into the Flames zone. Grundstrom beat Weegar in a foot-race from the point, accepted a pass from Rasmus Kupari and chipped it past Jacob Markstrom to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
A few mintues later, the Kings made it 2-0 off a nice bit of forechecking. Quinton Byfield’s forecheck led to a Chris Tanev turnover. The puck was flung out to the right point for Drew Doughty. Doughty held onto the puck, waited for traffic, and fired a shot that went through traffic – and between Anze Kopitar’s legs – and beat Markstrom inside the far post.
Less than a minute later, the Kings forecheck made it 3-0. Blake Lizotte knocked Nikita Zadorov off the puck below the Flames’ goal line. Alex Iafallo collected the puck, fed it to Gabriel Vilardi in the slot for a quick tap-in past Markstrom.
With Mikael Backlund in the penalty box, the Kings’ power play made it 4-0. Adrian Kempe made a nice cross-zone pass to Viktor Arvidsson, who blasted a one-timer past Markstrom.
Early in the second period, the Flames got a measure of revenge by spoiling Pheonix Copley’s shutout bid. Backlund disrupted a Kings possession below their red line with a poke check. The puck drifted to Elias Lindholm in the corner, and his feed to Tyler Toffoli in the slot was shot past Copley to cut the Kings lead to 4-1.
But that’s as close as the Flames got. Alex Edler sprung Kempe into the Flames zone on a breakway and his shot trickled under Markstrom’s arm and in to make it 5-1 Kings.
Kempe made it 6-1 Kings off the rush a little bit later. He used Tanev as a screen and fired a puck between his legs (and under Markstrom’s arm short-side).
Dan Vladar came into the game in relief of Markstrom for the third period.
The Flames got another goal midway through the third period. Blake Coelman fired a shot on goal after a face-off win from a bad angle. The puck blooped into the net-front area and a pinching Noah Hanifin jammed in the rebound to cut the Kings’ lead to 6-2.
But the Kings iced things completely on a four-on-three power play. Mikey Anderson received a shot, looked for a pass and, seeing none, decided to shoot. He picked the corner on Vladar to make it 7-2.
Grundstrom scored another goal off the rush. Kupari stole the puck from Jakob Pelletier inside the offensive blueline and on a two-on-one, passed to Grundstrom, who beat Vladar short-side over the shoulder to make it 8-2 Kings.
Why the Flames lost
The Flames had all sorts of issues dealing with the speed of the Kings’ forecheck. In the defensive zone, that speed caused the Flames to make all sorts of bad decisions with the puck, leading to turnovers and chances (and goals) against. In transition, that speed disrupted anything the Flames were trying to do coming out of their zone and into the neutral zone, which served to make the Flames’ offensive play equal parts hesitant and slow.
Calgary’s goaltending wasn’t spectacular, but on the six goals that Markstrom gave up, you could make a strong argument that he had zero chance on four or five of ’em.
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We respectfully decline to name a Red Warrior for this game. It’s nearly impossible to suss out positives in a game where the hockey club gives up eight goals and loses by six.
The last 12:43 of the first period completely killed the Flames’ chances in this game. Four goals on 10 unanswered shots? Good night.
This and that
Backlund’s assist on Toffoli’s goal was the Swede’s 300th helper of his NHL career.
This was the first time the Flames had given up eight goals in game since an 8-4 loss to Chicago on Feb. 15, 2020. A six goal loss was the club’s largest margin of defeat since a 9-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 25, 2018.
The Flames (31-25-15) are headed down the road to Anaheim. They visit the Ducks on Tuesday night at Honda Center.
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