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The Calgary Flames hosted the St. Louis Blues on Friday night. It was a “scheduled win,” in that the Blues had played on Thursday in Edmonton and the Flames were a rested team. But the Blues played a really smart road game, defending the front of their net and playing really effective counter-punch hockey.
As has become a trend this season, the Flames’ mistakes came back to haunt them in a 5-2 loss to the Blues.

The rundown

The Blues opened the scoring early in this contest, off a cycle play gone awry for the Flames in the Blues zone. Elias Lindholm threw the puck to the point for an arriving Nikita Zadorov. But Lindholm didn’t quite get enough oomph on the pass, so Robert Thomas yoinked it at the point and went on a two-on-one rush with Ivan Barbashev. A bit of a give-and-go ended with a Barbashev tap-in into an open net to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.
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The Flames got even things up late in the period. Connor Mackey pinched down to maintain possession in the Blues’ zone, then rotated to the front of the net. Dillon Dube fired the puck from the top of the circles and it looked to be going about four feet wide of the net… until it hit Mackey’s stick and ricocheted past Thomas Greiss. That tied the game up at 1-1.
First period shots were 14-12 Flames (all at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 14-11 Blues (high-danger chances were 8-4 Blues).
Shorthanded two-on-one with Lewis in the box: Dube’s pass to Mangiapane misses; Blues go back the other way, Kyrou’s shot from top of the circles off the rush beats Markstrom top corner stick-side. 2-1 STL.
The Flames had three power plays in the remainder of the period, including a pair of that overlapped for 22 seconds of five-on-three play. But the Flames just couldn’t generate a whole lot of grade-A chances on the man advantage.
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Second period shots were 15-3 Flames (9-1 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-2 Flames (high-dangers were 1-1).
The Blues added some insurance early in the third period. Brayden Schenn drove deep into the Flames zone, taking a few Flames defenders with him – Noah Hanifin and Andrew Mangiapane followed him into the corner, while Rasmus Andersson hung around the net-front area. Schenn threw the puck back to Pavel Buchnevich, who had a clear lane and tons of time, and beat Markstrom stick-side to give the Blues a 3-1 lead.
But the Flames still had some life in them. Dube skated into the Blues zone and looked for a pass to the trailing player. Mackey, driving into the zone from the bench, called for the pass, then beat Greiss with a quick wrister off the rush to cut the Blues’ lead to 3-2.
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However, the Blues responded back quickly. Mackey threw an inopportune pass up the middle in the Flames zone. Brandon Saad intercepted the puck, drove to the front of the net and tucked the puck past Markstrom to give the Blues another two-goal lead, this time by a 4-2 margin.
A little later, the Blues really put it out of reach. On a rush play, Kyrou attempted to pass the puck to a streaking Thomas. Weegar tried to block the pass, but the puck bounced off of him and into the net to make it 5-2 Blues.
The Blues held on for the 5-2 victory.
Third period shots were 13-8 Flames (13-7 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 11-8 Flames (high-dangers were 5-4 Flames).

Why the Flames lost

The good news is that the Flames got shot volume. They spent a decent time in the Blues’ zone, and they put a lot of rubber on net. But here’s the rub: the Flames didn’t do a lot to make Greiss’ evening difficult. Screens? Minimal. Rebounds? The Blues did a wonderful job of boxing the Flames out and collapsing to clear the slot area of rebounds. Tips? The Flames’ lone goal came off a deflection because Mackey had the wherewithal to head to the net.
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The Flames did a lot of good things. They attempted a lot of smart, savvy plays, but their execution just was not crisp enough to bury those chances when they had the opportunity to do so. Case in point? Their power play, which had six shots (and zero on their 22-second two-man advantage).

Red Warrior

Mackey scored twice, so he gets it. Easily.

Turning point

The Flames got this game back within one goal in the middle of the third period, then gave up two goals in 61 seconds. That sunk their comeback hopes.

This and that

The Flames were without Chris Tanev for the second consecutive game., He remains out day-to-day after blocking a shot with the side of his head against Montreal. Milan Lucic returned to the lineup after a three game absence, replacing Brett Ritchie.
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The Flames were back in their black third jerseys (Blasty) for Friday’s game. They’ve completed their four game commitment to their Reverse Retro 2.0 (Pedestal) jerseys; they went 3-0-1 in those threads.

Up next

The Flames (13-12-6) are headed back on the road. They’re in San Jose on Sunday night for a late (8:30 p.m. MT) game with the Sharks.