The Calgary Flames welcomed the Los Angeles Kings to the Saddledome on Thursday night. The game was unfolded was very similar to Tuesday’s game with Colorado: tight-checking with occasional bursts of physical intensity and few strong scoring chances.
In a game that required extra time to decide, the Flames lost to the Kings 3-2 in a shootout
The first period was fairly low event. Both teams played a structured defensive game and when each club got some scoring chances, they were fairly sloppy in their execution. Neither team scored.
Shots were 7-7 (6-5 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 9-5 Flames in the first period.
The Kings hit the scoresheet early in the second period. Johnny Gaudreau went for a dump-in and then turned to change. Unfortunately, the dump-in didn’t get particularly deep. It was collected by Alex Edler and a couple passes later, Alex Iafallo was in all alone on Jacob Markstrom. He beat the Flames netminder to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
The Flames had a lot of zone time after that, but just weren’t able to bury anything and Kings goaltender Cal Petersen was very sharp.
Shots were 11-10 Flames (all at five-on-five) and scoring chances 14-10 Flames in the second period.
The Flames tied things up early in the third period off the power play. Gaudreau got crunched by Sean Durzi in the offensive zone. He stayed on for the power play and hung around the for the second unit. That was fortuitous, as Calle Jarnkrok’s shot careened off a Kings player and bounced right to Gaudreau to the left of the Kings goal. He put it over top a sliding Cal Petersen to tie the game at 1-1.
The Flames had some zone time and some offensive looks subsequently, and Erik Gudbranson’s point shot wobbled its way through traffic and just beat Petersen inside the far post to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
But the Kings tied things up a little bit later. The Kings made it deep off the rush. Phillip Danault was given space behind the net, and he found Viktor Arvidsson in the slot for a quick combination that beat Markstrom to tie the game up at 2-2.
Shots were 10-9 Flames (9-6 Kings at five-on-five) and scoring chances 7-7 in the third period.
Elias Lindholm was called for interference in overtime. The Flames managed to kill off the penalty, though. Shots were 6-0 Kings in overtime.
This game required a shootout to decide. Lias Andersson scored for the Kings, nobody scored for the Flames (Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk and Gaudreau were all denied) and this game finished as a 3-2 Kings victory.
Why the Flames got a point
Give the Kings credit: they played a really good road game. They may have faded in their intensity at times – they were playing their second game in as many nights – but they kept their structure and their discipline throughout the duration of this game.
For their part, the Flames just couldn’t get their swagger going in the offensive zone and showed some sloppiness in their puck management from time to time. The Kings did a nice job of disrupting them in the neutral zone, which made it more challenging than usual for the Flames to generate quality scoring chances. At this time of year, that’s the name of the game.
The Kings got the better chances offensively in this game, and Markstrom had to be really sharp from time to time. He was the most consistently strong player for the gents in red. (Honourable mention to Dillon Dube, who was a ball of energy.)
The turning point
Give the Flames’ penalty kill credit: they needed a big kill in overtime to give themselves a chance to get to the shootout. They got the kill they needed.
But let’s also point out: giving up a goal with less than five minutes left in regulation when up a goal (to a division rival) wasn’t ideal. Especially when it was due to a bit of defensive malaise in their own zone.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
Oliver Kylington went into the boards awkwardly midway through the third period. He left the ice under his own power – hunched over in a lot of pain – and went right down the tunnel to the locker room. He didn’t return and the Flames finished the game with five blueliners.
The Flames (40-18-9) are back in action on Saturday night when they host the St. Louis Blues.
Via Pat Steinberg: As of this writing, the Flames’ magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now 8 – any combination of 8 Flames wins or Vegas losses clinches a post-season spot for Calgary.
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