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The Calgary Flames hosted the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night at the Saddledome. It was a game that both teams went into needing points and, more importantly, some momentum. In a game that started in a late timeslot and got sloppier as it wore on, both teams got points, at least.
The Flames lost 4-3 to the Canucks in a shootout.
The Flames didn’t give up a goal on their first shot against. (Yay!) But they gave up a goal on their second shot against. (Boo.) And their third shot against.
So, Rasmus Andersson and Curtis Lazar were battling for position and fell over in front of the net, bumping into Jacob Markstrom, who also fell down. The Canucks maintained possession and cycled the puck, and Markstrom got up and got set in his net. In front, nobody could tie up Bo Horvat and he tipped an Oliver Ekman-Larsson point shot past Markstrom to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead.
Just 34 seconds later, Vancouver struck again. The Canucks headed into the zone and made some nice passes, giving Conor Garland the puck. The Flames collapsed down into the zone a bit to protect the slot, so Garland went “Oh, okay, I’ll just shoot it then,” and sniped a nice wrist shot top-corner short-side on Markstrom to give Vancouver an early 2-0 lead.
A little later, the Flames answered back. After Radim Zohorna drew a hooking minor, the Flames cashed in on the power play. With the second unit on the ice, Dillon Dube fired a slap-pass along the ice towards the net-front area, where Mikael Backlund redirected it past Spencer Martin to cut Vancouver’s lead to 2-1.
Later in the period, the Flames drew even. Dube entered the offensive zone with speed, then button-hooked and protected the puck while his teammates gained the zone, too. Dube threw the puck around the boards to Nazem Kadri behind the net. Kadri threw a pass out into the slot area for a waiting Andrew Mangiapane, who beat Martin with a low shot to tie the game up at 2-2.
First period shots were 16-7 Flames (11-4 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 6-6 (high-dangers were 5-3 Canucks).
The Flames briefly took the lead in the second period. Their power play had a man advantage but couldn’t score another goal. Immediately after the penalty expired, on the bump-up shift, Trevor Lewis drove his way into the Canucks zone. He got a shot on Martin, collected his own rebound, and chipped it on net, where it bonked off Martin’s glove and into the net to make it a 3-2 game. (It seemed like Martin was trying to block the puck from getting to Zohorna out front, but either way, a goal’s a goal.)
But just 1:40 later, Vancouver tied things up. Connor Mackey went to pressure Andrei Kuzmenko in the neutral zone, but the puck got past him and lead to a bit of a quasi-two-on-one (or three-on-two) entering the Flames zone. Sheldon Dries raced behind Jonathan Huberdeau, received a pass from Nils Hoglander, and beat Markstrom with a quick shot off the rush to tie the game up at 3-3.
Second period shots were 12-11 Canucks (9-8 Canucks at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 6-4 Flames (high-dangers were 4-3 Flames).
The third period was fairly high-tempo, with good chances on both sides, but the execution was definitely lacking at both ends and so extra time was needed.
Third period shots were 9-3 Flames (7-1 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 5-4 Canucks (high-dangers were 3-2 Canucks).
Overtime solved nothing, so this game required a shootout. Kuzmenko scored for Vancouver, nobody scored for Calgary, and this game ended as a 4-3 Canucks victory.
Why the Flames got a point
This was a weird game, a bit of a throwback with fairly inconsistent defensive play. As a result, it felt like river hockey at times, and probably would’ve been more of a track meet if not for some good goaltending (and some spotty offensive execution on both sides).
The Flames, admittedly, seemed a bit discombobulated defensively without Chris Tanev on the back end, and as a result things were much more scrambly than their usual structured game. And that scrambliness made this game closer than it probably should’ve been.
Dube made two really good plays that led to the Flames’ first two goals, so let’s give him the nod. He was playing with a lot of speed and execution.
Markstrom was also really strong, aside from perhaps the second Vancouver goal.
Let’s go with the entire third period. The Flames had a bunch of chances to grab the lead in the third period, but just couldn’t find a way to turn chances into dangerous chances (or dangerous chances into goals).
This and that
The Flames were without Chris Tanev, who’s out day-to-day after blocking a shot with the side of his head against Montreal. The Canucks were without Brock Boeser, who was a late scratch after taking warm-up due to a non-COVID illness.
The Flames (13-11-6) are back in action on Friday when they host the St. Louis Blues.