The Calgary Flames never win hockey games in Las Vegas. For whatever reason, the bad mojo from the Honda Center in Anaheim has migrated up the interstate into T-Mobile Center in Las Vegas because the Flames have not won a single road game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
History repeated itself on Sunday night, as the Flames dropped a 3-2 decision to the Golden Knights and ran their winless skid in Vegas to seven games.
The Flames were on their heels for stretches in the first period, but they largely hung in there at five-on-five. But on a bad line change and a neutral zone turnover, Noah Hanifin left Rasmus Andersson all by himself to defend a two-on-one. That allowed Chandler Stephenson to set up Max Pacioretty for a one-timer that beat Jacob Markström to make it 1-0 Vegas.
Shots were 10-8 Golden Knights (7-7 at five-on-five) and scoring chances 5-4 Golden Knights in the first period.
Neither team scored in the second, though Vegas was consistently dangerous and didn’t give the Flames much daylight in the offensive zone. Shots were 9-9 (8-7 Golden Knights at five-on-five) and scoring chances 9-4 Golden Knights in the second period.
Nicolas Roy made it 2-0 Vegas early in the third period. As with the opening Vegas goal, the Flames coughed up the puck in the neutral zone on a line change and Vegas was able to capitalize with a few smart passes, ending with Shea Theodore setting up Roy with a clean lane to the net in the slot.
But the Flames got on the board midway through the third period, as Andersson chucked the puck towards the net and Elias Lindholm made a nifty redirect past Robin Lehner to cut the home side’s lead to 2-1.
But right afterwards, Vegas iced it. The Flames went all hands on deck in the offensive zone and got caught up ice on a Vegas counter-attack, ending with Evgeni Dadonov burying a rebound past Markström to give the Golden Knights a 3-1 lead.
The Flames pulled Markström for the extra attacker late, and it was successful. The Flames pressured the net, and Johnny Gaudreau set up Andrew Mangiapane for a quick wrister that beat Lehner glove-side to cut the lead to 3-2.
Shots were 9-9 (8-6 Golden Knights at five-on-five) and scoring chances 7-6 Golden Knights in the third period.
Why the Flames lost
This was a playoff style game, with the Flames not getting much in the way of daylight in the offensive or neutral zones. And Vegas did a great job of clogging things up and making the Flames battle for that space – and the Flames tended to lose a lot of those battles. High-danger chances were 13-2 Vegas at five-on-five.
The Flames weren’t particularly bad, but they seemed to struggle against the style and substance of Vegas’ game. If they want to go on a long post-season run, the Flames will need to figure out how to adjust to how the Golden Knights play.
Markström held the Flames in this game for big stretches. He was easily their best player.
The turning point
Giving up goals early in periods are rough, and the Flames dug themselves a pretty big hole when Roy scored a couple minutes into the third period.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
This was Johnny Gaudreau’s 545th game with the Flames, tying Tim Hunter for 16th all-time. The only active Flames ahead of Gaudreau are Mikael Backlund (769) and Sean Monahan (616).
The Flames (15-5-5) are back in action on Tuesday night when they visit the San Jose Sharks. It’s an 8:30 p.m. MT puck drop, so have a late dinner and stock up on snacks and coffee.
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