The Calgary Flames played 30 really good minutes of hockey on Tuesday evening in San Jose. Unfortunately, those 30 minutes were undone by some really sloppy play in the second half of the second period. The Flames gave away leads of 1-0 and 3-1 and ended up losing to the San Jose Sharks by a 5-3 score in the finale of their four game road trip.
The Flames were a bit shaky in their own end early, but they managed to get themselves the opening goal. Milan Lucic chased down an errant puck in the Sharks zone, then hucked it towards the front of the net. Dillon Dube redirected the puck and it glanced off a Sharks defender and beat Adin Hill to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
But the Sharks got that one back on the power play. With Erik Gudbranson in the box, Mikael Backlund’s stick broke. Backlund rushed to the bench to get a new stick but while he was gone, Tomas Hertl buried a feed from Noah Gregor to tie things up at 1-1.
But the Flames got that one back before the end of the period. Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk retrieved a dump-in below the red line, then Tkachuk fed Johnny Gaudreau in front of the net. Gaudreau went top corner on Hill to give the Flames a 2-1 advantage.
Shots were 12-8 Flames (12-6 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 9-8 Sharks in the first period.
The Flames added to their lead in the second period. Chris Tanev’s shot was tipped by Adam Ruzicka in front of the Sharks net. Hill made the initial save, but Ruzicka put his own rebound past the Sharks goaltender to give Calgary a 3-1 lead.
Then the wheels fell off.
The Flames couldn’t cash in on a power play. A bad defensive change after the PP – Chris Tanev went off for Erik Gudbranson, who seemed to take awhile to get situated on the ice – and that allowed Logan Couture to spring Erik Karlsson for a breakaway. Karlsson beat Vladar to cut the lead to 3-2.
A little later, with Nikita Zadorov in the penalty box, the Sharks got another power play goal as Couture redirected a Karlsson point shot shortly after a Sharks face-off win. That tied things up at 3-3.
And the Sharks took the lead late in the period after a sequence where the Flames repeatedly whiffed on zone exit attempts, ending with Gudbranson passing the puck right to Alexander Barabanov. His shot was stopped by Vladar, but Hertl buried the rebound to give the Sharks the 4-3 lead.
Shots were 16-14 Flames (13-10 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 12-8 Flames in the second period.
The Flames pressed in the third, but Hertl scored an empty net goal to complete the hat trick and send the Flames home with a 5-3 loss.
Shots were 15-5 Flames (10-4 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 11-7 Flames in the third period.
Why the Flames lost
Well, as Sportsnet 960’s Will Nault noted on Twitter: this game was a slopfest. The Flames didn’t have great puck management, especially in their own end, and their puck management gaffes led to scoring chances, penalties, and goals (all against the Flames). When the Flames had opportunities to draw even, usually on special teams, they just couldn’t execute well enough to give themselves a chance.
Sean Monahan didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he was consistently noticeable and generated a lot of good offensive chances for the Flames.
The turning point
The second half of the second period was a comedy of errors, with the Flames making tons of mistakes that ended up in the back of their net.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
Ruzicka’s goal was, of course, the first of his NHL career.
This was the first regulation loss for Vladar since joining the Flames.
The Flames (15-6-5) are headed home! They face the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday at the Saddledome.
Looking to up your fantasy hockey game? DailyFaceoff has the tools you need for both daily and season-long fantasy leagues, including a lineup optimizer, daily projections, and a whole lot more. Sign up for the DailyFaceoff tools here.