Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames scoring sputters in shutout loss to Wild
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike15 days ago
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The Calgary Flames hosted the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night, looking to snap a four-game losing skid. However, the Flames couldn’t generate much in the way of offence, struggling to answer Minnesota’s structure, pace and poise.
In a game where the visitors out-executed and out-battled them, the Flames skated to a 3-0 loss to Minnesota to run their losing streak to five games (0-3-2).
The opening period was fairly even, though the Wild generated more chances and higher quality chances than the Flames – never a good combination. Eventually they cashed in with just over five minutes remaining in the first. Jon Merrill came in as the trailing man on a three-on-two rush and hit the post, but the Wild retained possession, cycled the puck, and eventually Matt Boldy’s shot from the point was deflected by both Marcus Johansson and Joel Eriksson Ek past Jacob Markstrom to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. (Not sure what Markstrom was supposed to do facing a double screen and a double deflection…)
The game remained tight and low-event, but the Flames couldn’t generate a ton offensively and the Wild did a very capable job of largely keeping them to the outside, minimizing rebounds and grade-A scoring chances.
With just under six minutes left in the third period, the Wild doubled their lead off a weird play. Frederick Gaudreau uncorked a shot from the slot off a one-timer feed from Sam Steel, but it looked to go off the heel of his stick. His shot missed the net high, but bonked off the post that goes around the top of the Flames net and bounced back behind Markstrom. An alert Marcus Foligno bunted the puck behind Markstrom and redirected it into the net (as it fell) to give the Wild a 2-0 lead.
The Wild added a third marker a little later. After an initial stop by Markstrom, Noah Hanifin had his pocket picked by Eriksson Ek below the goal line. His pass to Boldy in the slot found a way through, despite Markstrom attempting to block it with his stick, and Boldy buried the feed to make it 3-0 Wild.
That’s all she wrote. The Wild held on for a 3-0 victory. Boos were audible from the Saddledome crowd as the final seconds of the game wound down.
Why the Flames lost
Credit where it’s due: the Wild played a really good, smart road game. They played with structure, won face-offs, managed the puck well, and generally did what they could to maintain composure and control the game. They deserved to win.
And the Flames? Well, they seemed to lack urgency, desperation and energy. This was one of their “B-level” games, where everybody was largely in the right spots and doing things generally well enough, but nobody seemed to stand out when they really needed somebody to do so.
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For the second consecutive outing, Markstrom was really good. He wasn’t perfect, but there wasn’t any panic in his game, and there wasn’t very much he could do on the three goals he gave up.
When the Flames were down by a single goal, you could be convinced that a bloop, bounce or burst of strong offensive execution could give the Flames a fighting chance. But that second goal, a weird one, was an absolute back-breaker.
This and that
The Flames held their Indigenous Celebration at Saturday’s game, which included a land acknowledgement video, a ceremonial face-off featuring the chiefs of the local Treaty 7 bands, and the Canadian national anthem performed in Blackfoot.
Newly acquired blueliner Troy Stecher made his Flames debut.
The Flames (27-23-13) are headed on the road for a back-to-back set. They play in Dallas against the Stars on Monday and in Minnesota against the Wild (again) on Tuesday.
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