Calgary Flames Post-Game: The Kings gift the Flames a lump of coal (and a loss) for Christmas

Photo credit:Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
5 months ago
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The Calgary Flames faced the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night for their final game before the holiday break. The Flames were on their heels for much of the game and never held a lead during the contest, but they scrapped and battled for three periods against a superior opponent and managed to make things interesting.
The Flames dropped this contest to the Kings by a 5-3 score to head into Christmas on a losing note.

The rundown

The Kings got on the board fairly early in this game, scoring on the first shot registered on Jacob Markstrom. Anze Kopitar won an offensive zone face-off, drew the puck to the point, and Quinton Byfield’s shot beat Markstrom to give the Kings a 1-0 advantage.
But a little after that, the Flames responded and tied the game. The Flames gained the Kings’ zone off the rush. Mikael Backlund fed the puck to Rasmus Andersson on the right wing, pinching, and his shot deflected off Matt Roy’s shinpad and wobbled past Cam Talbot to tie the game at 1-1.
But the Kings regained the lead before the period’s end, on the power play. With Chris Tanev in the penalty box, Jordan Spence’s shot was tipped by Pierre-Luc Dubois and ricocheted off Andersson and into the Flames net. That gave the home side a 2-1 lead.
First period shots were 13-7 Kings (11-7 Kings at five-on-five) and (via Natural Stat Trick) five-on-five scoring chances were 8-6 Kings (high-dangers were 3-1 Kings).
Chris Tanev was tagged with another minor penalty in the early second period, but that led to a Flames shorthanded goal – power-kill gonna power-kill, we guess. After generating a turnover, Yegor Sharangovich and Blake Coleman executed a nifty little passing sequence in the Kings’ zone. It ended with Coleman chipping a puck past Talbot (and then landing on the poor guy) to tie things up at 2-2. Talbot stayed in the game.
But the Kings responded, again. Drew Doughty had the puck in the Flames’ zone. He attempted a cross-zone pass, but it deflected off Andrew Mangiapane’s skate, off Dillon Dube’s stick, and ended up going right to Alex Laferriere to Markstrom’s right. Markstrom got over to him, but the puck went off Laferriere’s skate, off the right post, off Markstrom and into the net to give the Kings a 3-2 lead.
The Flames had a power play midway through the second period. The Flames generated three shots, but then the Kings responded with three shots of their own, shorthanded. Shortly after the Kings’ penalty expired, a Roy outlet pass sent Trevor Moore into the Flames’ zone with a clear lane to the net. He skated in and got a nice shot off, beating Markstrom top shelf stick-side to give the Kings a 4-2 lead.
Second period shots were 13-12 Kings (8-3 Kings at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 16-5 Kings (high-dangers were 4-1 Kings).
The Flames didn’t generate quite enough during an early third period power play – they had five shots, but they weren’t all that dangerous – but they finally cashed in on a subsequent man advantage. Adam Ruzicka took a pass to Talbot’s left and opted to shoot for a rebound, throwing the puck right into Talbot’s pillows. The puck was booted into the slot for Coleman, who flung the rebound into the Kings’ net to cut their lead to 4-3.
The Flames tried to get an equalizer, but it wasn’t in the cards on this occasion. The Flames pulled Markstrom for the extra attacker, and Byfield out-raced Hanifin for a puck and added an empty-netter to cement a 5-3 Kings victory.

Why the Flames lost

If you were going to mock this game out on paper, the Flames would be expected to lose fairly definitively.
  • The Kings are a better five-on-five team than the Flames; the Flames are good, but the Kings are an elite possession team at even strength.
  • The Flames penalty kill matches up fairly well with the Kings power play, but the Kings’ penalty kill (one of the NHL’s best) matches up really well with the Flames’ power play (one of the league’s worst).
One would expect the Kings to carry serve significantly at even strength, and the two sides’ special teams would cancel each other out.
The Kings ran the Flames’ show at even strength. The Flames’ special teams units more than negated Los Angeles’ – the Flames countered a Kings’ power play goal with power play and shorthanded goals of their own – but they just weren’t enough to overcome how good the Kings were overall.

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Red Warrior

Coleman scored twice, so he gets the nod, but Markstrom was really sharp and prevented the Kings from pulling away. With a lesser netminder in net, this game isn’t close for very long.

Turning point

Take your pick between Moore’s superb goal to give the Kings a two goal lead heading into the second intermission, or the Flames’ inability to cash in on their extended man advantage to kick off the third period.
The Flames just didn’t have the time (or the firepower) to overcome a two goal third period deficit on the road. (Not a lot of teams do, frankly.)

This and that

The Kings were tagged with a double-minor penalty on a weird play late in the second period. Martin Pospisil clashed a bit with Adrian Kempe in the neutral zone, which caused Kempe’s stick to bump off Pospisil and fly up… and whack Noah Hanifin right in the face, drawing blood. That sequence was reviewed, with the Flames getting a four-minute power play out of it, most of which carried over into the third period.

Up next

The Flames (14-15-5) are headed home for their holiday break. They’re back in action on Dec. 27 when they host the Seattle Kraken.

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