Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames fall short in Vancouver, capture just one point
By Ryan Pike10 months ago
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The Calgary Flames went into their game on Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks really needing two points, ideally in regulation, to maintain their playoff pursuit. They played a heck of a third period, but that just was not enough against a pretty energetic Canucks team.
The Flames lost to the Canucks by a 3-2 score in a shootout. They remain alive in the playoff race, but need a lot of help to get in.
This game was generally pretty even, but the Canucks were simply a little bit sharper than the Flames early on and they were rewarded for it.
Midway through the opening period, the home side opened the scoring. The Canucks cycled the puck to the point and, with a bunch of bodies between the shooter and Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom, rookie Cole McWard saw a wrister find a way through for his first NHL goal. Jack Studnicka and Noah Hanifin were battling in front of the goalkeeper during the shot, which likely contributed to it beating Markstrom low glove-side to make it 1-0 Canucks.
Later in the period, the Canucks cashed in on a Flames puck management gaffe on a power play. Jonathan Huberdeau held in puck at the offensive blueline and tried to throw a puck to the defender at the right point. But J.T. Miller got his stick in the passing lane and the puck went into the neutral zone, was tracked down by Elias Pettersson, and shot past Markstrom on the ensuing breakaway to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.
The Flames rallied back in the third period. 38 seconds into the final regulation frame, the Flames entered the Canucks zone with numbers. Tyler Toffoli managed things well, waited for reinforcements, passed to Dillon Dube and Dube’s pass to Elias Lindholm was shot across his body and beat Thatcher Demko top corner glove-side to cut the Canucks lead to 2-1.
The Flames soon after had a power play, but didn’t generate very much on it. But as the man advantage expired, a clash of players battling for the puck saw it bloop high into the air and land in front of Hanifin at the point. Amidst all the confusion, Hanifin passed to Nazem Kadri all alone in front of Demko, and his quick shot beat Demko short-side to tie the game at 2-2.
The overtime period was bananas. There were chances end to end, with both teams having opportunities to end it during three-on-three – Calgary’s best featured Dube’s stick exploding on a two-on-one rush.
This one went to the shootout. Andrei Kuzmenko scored for Vancouver, while Jonathan Huberdeau, Kadri and Toffoli couldn’t solve Demko in the skills competition. The Canucks took this game by a 3-2 score.
Why the Flames got a point
The Flames managed to salvage a point because they played desperate, tactical hockey in the third period. They were feisty, they were dialed-in, and they played with an urgency that likely made onlookers wonder where this quality was in the prior 40 minutes.
The Canucks were structured and pretty poised defensively and the Flames seemed to have issues with their forecheck. And, for the most part, their offensive attack on Demko was pretty pedestrian. In short: Vancouver’s netminder saw almost everything in this game, and didn’t have to deal with too many screens, tips, deflections or wacky plays.
The Flames lacked urgency and creativity for the first 40 minutes. They found them in the third period, but it just was not enough to get them what they needed.
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Let’s give it to Lindholm. He was credited with eight shots and three missed shots in this game, and he was arguably the club’s most impressive offensive competitor.
Markstrom was also worth praise, too, as he made a bunch of big stops at key times.
Man, the Flames were excellent in the first 6-8 minutes of the third period. They were down 2-0 and really needed a response, and they delivered it.
This and that
This was the Flames’ league-leading 23rd game decided in extra time.
The Flames’ tragic number drops to 1.5. Any combination of three points gained by Winnipeg or not gained by the Flames eliminates them from playoff contention.
The Flames’ magic number drops to 4. Any combination of eight points gained by Calgary or not gained by Winnipeg clinches them a playoff berth. Suffice it to say, it’ll be an uphill battle.
The Flames (37-27-16) are headed home. They host the Nashville Predators on Monday night.
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