The Calgary Flames had a really good first period on Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers. Sure, they trailed after the opening period, but they out-chanced Florida and were hampered by special teams challenges.
But Panthers were by far the better team in the final 40 minutes and the Flames skated to a 6-2 loss to kick off their stretch of three games in four nights.
The first period was pretty nuts, with both teams getting high quality scoring chances. The Panthers opened up the scoring early, with Noah Hanifin in the penalty box. Patric Hornqvist won position in a battle with Chris Tanev in front of the net, then made a slick stick-lift and swept the puck past Jacob Markström to give Florida a 1-0 lead.
The Flames answered back soon after, though. Markström made a big save and the Flames exited the zone with a couple quick passes that sprung Johnny Gaudreau into the Florida zone on a breakaway. He beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a high wrister to tie the game at 1-1.
The Flames took the lead a little later, as Mikael Backlund won a puck battle below the Florida goal line, then passed it to Blake Coleman, who chipped the puck in off Bobrovsky’s blocker and into the net. That made it 2-1 Flames.
The Panthers tied things up, though. The Flames lost a couple puck battles in their own zone, allowing Gustav Forsling to get a point shot off with all kinds of bodies in front of Markström. The puck went in, apparently off a Flames player, tying the game up 2-2.
And as the period wound down, and Brett Ritchie in the penalty box, Joe Thornton was left alone in front of the Flames net and deflected a Brandon Montour shot past Markström to give Florida a 3-2 lead heading into the intermission.
Shots were 16-14 Panthers (13-12 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances were 19-11 Flames in the first period.
The Panthers pressed for much of the second period, translating zone time into a lot of good scoring chances. Eventually, late in the period, they cashed in. Ryan Lomberg skated into their zone on the rush and beat Markström between the legs to increase Florida’s lead to 4-2.
Shots were 21-16 Panthers (all at five-on-five) and scoring chances were 20-13 Panthers in the second period.
The Flames had a power play early in the third period, but they failed to generate much. A little later, Hornqvist scored from the face-off dot in the Flames zone to give Florida a comfortable 5-2 lead.
Lucas Carlsson added a goal midway through the third period to give Florida a 6-2 advantage.
Shots were 19-8 Flames (15-5 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 13-6 Flames in the third period. (But remember: score effects.)
Why the Flames lost
Well, one issue was that Florida cashed in on their special teams opportunities while the Flames did not.
The other issue was that the Panthers made five-on-five adjustments throughout the game, and really took things over for long stretches of the second period. The Flames were back on their heels for big chunks of the last two-thirds of this game, and they just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to claw their way back into things.
Coleman had a lot of really good looks and probably deserved to score more than just the one goal.
The turning point
In the first period, the Flames had a chance to hit the intermission tied. They gave up a late power play goal and headed into the intermission down one. In the second period, the Flames had a chance to hit the intermission down by one goal. They gave up a late goal and headed into the intermission down two.
That’s the whole game right there.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
Brett Ritchie returned to the lineup, playing his first game since Nov. 2.
The Flames shuffled their bottom three lines a little bit in the third period. Among the combinations tried out were:
- Lucic – Dube – Pitlick
- Mangiapane – Monahan – Ritchie
- Lewis – Backlund – Coleman
The 16 high-danger scoring chances the Flames allowed at five-on-five (via Natural Stat Trick) were a season high.
The Flames (17-8-6) are remaining in the Sunshine State. They’re trekking up to Tampa, where they face the Lightning on Thursday night.
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