Calgary Flames Post-Game: Fatigued Flames fade against Capitals
Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 year ago
After Monday’s Battle of Alberta, Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter noted that the teams involved both looked tired. The Flames faced a fresh Washington Capitals on Tuesday night in the second half of a back-to-back. It was a scheduled loss and the Flames looked tired throughout, fading as the game wore on and losing 5-4 to the Capitals.
This game was equal parts even and scrambly, with both teams getting scoring chances based on the other team’s gaffes.
The Flames seemed to open the scoring originally off an Andrew Mangiapane goal, but the goal was challenged and was way off side as Nikita Zadorov didn’t hold the puck in at the blueline.
But after killing off a Rasmus Andersson minor penalty, the Flames did end up opening the score after all. Andersson exited the box and set Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau up on a two-on-one offensive rush. Gaudreau set up Lindholm, and Lindholm ripped a shot past Vitek Vanecek to give the locals a 1-0 lead.
Shots were 9-9 (all at five-on-five) and scoring chances 8-4 Capitals in the first period.
The Flames added to their lead midway through the second period. Adam Ruzicka’s line got in on the forecheck, backing the Capitals deep into their own zone. Dillon Dube intercepted an attempted rim-around clearing attempt on the half-wall, sending it into the net-front area for Mangiapane. Mangiapane fell over, but passed back to Ruzicka in the slot and he beat Vanecek to make it a 2-0 game.
But some iffy defensive zone execution by the Flames eroded that lead.
First, Dan Vladar made a nice save on a Lars Eller scoring chance. The rebound was collected by Milan Lucic, but he lost his footing as he tried to clear and fell over. The puck went right to Conor Sheary in the high slot and he beat Vladar to cut the lead to 2-1.
A little later, Sean Monahan had the puck in his own zone. As he was preparing an exit pass, the puck was intercepted by Evgeny Kuznetsov. He found Alex Ovechkin in the net-front area and #8 was automatic, beating Vladar high to tie the game at 2-2.
Shots were 15-7 Flames (all at five-on-five) and scoring chances 12-10 Flames in the second period.
The Flames took the lead in the third period. Oliver Kylington received a pass inside the offensive blueline, skated towards the centre of the ice to allow traffic to stack, then beat Vanecek. (The puck appeared to glance off Connor McMichael’s stick on the way.) That gave the Flames a 3-2 lead.
But the lead did not last. First, the Flames didn’t challenge the puck carrier as Anthony Mantha walked towards the slot. His shot went between Kylington’s legs and beat Vladar – he was essentially using the stationary defender as a screen – and that tied the game up at 3-3.
After killing off a penalty, the Flames were exhausted and the Capitals kept pressing. Nic Dowd drove towards the slot and beat Vladar to give the Capitals a 4-3 lead.
Ovechkin scored on an empty net to give the Capitals a 5-3 lead late. Lindholm deflected a slap-pass to the net-front area from Tyler Toffoli with the net empty to cut the lead to 5-4, but that’s as close as this game got and the Flames took a rare (these days) regulation loss.
Shots were 11-11 (11-6 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 10-6 Flames in the third period.
Why the Flames lost
The Flames looked tired. And they started the game being a little leaky in front of Vladar, and got a little bit more tired and leaky and scrambly in their own end as the game wore on. In addition to puck management foibles, two of Washington’s third period goals involved the Capitals players being allowed to drive towards the high-rent area to get shots off unencumbered.
They very much looked like a team that was playing their third game in four nights. (And fourth in six. And fifth in eight.) It was a scheduled loss in every sense of the term, but give the Flames credit for making Washington work for it.
Let’s go with Andersson, who was battling and noticeable all game long. If he’s a little bit worse, the wheels could’ve completely fallen off for the Flames here.
Vladar, for his part, was fine. He probably wants at least one of the third period goals back – they were classic “man, a big save would’ve been great there” moments – but he gave the Flames a chance.
The turning point
The Flames allowed two goals off turnovers on consecutive shifts from Monahan’s line in the second period. Those two goals evaporated their lead.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
This was Mikael Backlund’s 800th career NHL game.
Johnny Gaudreau and Tom Wilson collided knee-on-knee at the very end of the game.
Ovechkin tied Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals leaderboard with his two goals tonight.
The Flames (34-15-7) are back at it on Thursday night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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