Calgary Flames Post-Game: Locals fall short against the Leafs
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike18 days ago
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The Calgary Flames hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. The Flames are in desperate need of points wherever they can cobble them together, but unfortunately in a pretty tight-checking, close game, the Flames just didn’t have enough of a spark to generate big chances at big times.
The Flames skated to a 2-1 loss to the Leafs.
The Flames opened the scoring early in the first period. And they did it shorthanded. 73 seconds into the game, Noah Hanifin jumped off the bench early and the Flames were called for too many men. On the ensuing Leafs man advantage, new Leafs blueliner Erik Gustafsson couldn’t hold the puck in at the point. It blooped past him, was yoinked by Blake Coleman, and Coleman whooshed into the Leafs zone and beat Joseph Woll on the breakaway to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
But the Leafs evened things up midway through the second period. A Leafs dump-in couldn’t be fully controlled by MacKenzie Weegar, which led to the Leafs snatching the puck away and cycling the puck a bit. Mitch Marner decided “That’s it, I’m going to the slot” and basically walked through the entire Flames group, beating Jacob Markstrom through the five-hole to even the score up at 1-1.
The Flames nearly took the lead later in the period off a power play marker from Nazem Kadri, but the Leafs successfully challenged the goal for the zone entry being off-side. Late in the period, Markstrom made a big pad save on William Nylander on a breakaway to keep the game tied heading into the second intermission.
But the Leafs grabbed a lead in the third period. A weird bounce off a player in the neutral zone sent Morgan Rielly in on a breakaway. Markstrom made a save on the initial scoring chance, but the rebound spilled out into the blue paint and the Flames couldn’t box out the Leafs attackers, allowing Calle Jarnkrok to tuck the loose puck into Markstrom’s glove, which was already over the goal line, just before the net was dislodged. That gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead.
The Flames pressed for the equalizer throughout the rest of the third period, but just couldn’t find a way to solve Woll. The Leafs held on for a 2-1 victory.
Why the Flames lost
Give the Flames credit: the hung with a deep, fast, flat-out good Leafs team for much of this game. But here’s the difference between the two teams: the Leafs’ star players have been difference-makers for them this year, while the Flames haven’t quite been able to.
In a really close game, as this one was, the difference was the performance of guys like Marner and Matthews in white and blue, and a lack of difference-making performances at key times by the team in black sweaters.
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Let’s go with Markstrom. He was as good as he’s been all season. It’s a bit of a shame that the guys in front of him lacked much spark.
The line of Coleman, Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund were also quite good.
The go-ahead goal early in the third period was a tough goal to give up, especially after Markstrom made the first save off a weird bounce (and a bit of a defensive breakdown in the neutral zone). The Flames just didn’t have enough in the tank to draw back even.
This and that
Jonathan Huberdeau’s sister, Josiane, sang O Canada prior to puck drop.
The Flames (27-22-13) will attempt to navigate the trade deadline on Friday. Then they host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday to close out their current homestand.
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