The Calgary Flames had a good start. They scored the first goal. They dominated shots and possession in the first period. They didn’t give up very much defensively to their opponents, but just couldn’t get the one big goal (or big save)they needed to capture much-needed points.
It’s as if the Flames have been working off of a repeating script over the past few games of their losing skid, the most recent being a 3-1 loss on Thursday night to the Boston Bruins.
“It’s almost identical to last game,” said head coach Darryl Sutter following the game. “Really, the last four, counting tonight, almost the very same games. Not giving up much, can’t score the goal.”
Playing in another tight-checking, low-scoring game, Sutter emphasized the need to bury the good chances they did generate.
“When you get grade-As, you gotta score.”
Sutter pointed to three big scoring chances in the second period that couldn’t turn into goals: one by Andrew Mangiapane, one by Dillon Dube and one by Tyler Toffoli. Mangiapane and Toffoli had open nets at the far post to Linus Ullmark’s right, but just couldn’t bury the chance.
“We probably had Mange, Dubes and Ty all in the second period,” said Sutter. “Two of them were empty nets, I think, and Dillon makes a great play and goes across. You’re thinking one out of three, right? You just gotta finish there, that’s all. You can’t break away from how we have to play. Without those high-end scorers, you’re going to have to play that way.”
Between the three games on their road trip, the Flames had the following combined five-on-five performance (via Natural Stat Trick):
- Shots: 93-53 Flames
- Scoring chances: 63-56 Flames
- High-danger scoring chances: 27-20 Flames
- Expected goals: 6.79-4.62 Flames
- Actual goals: 7-4 opponents
- High-danger shooting percentage: 10%
- Opponents’ high-danger shooting percentage: 27%
- Shooting percentage: 4.3%
- Save percentage: 86.8%
Fundamentally, the Flames are doing a lot of good things. They played three games against three good teams in three tough buildings, and they played the entire road trip without Michael Stone and Chris Tanev (and the last two games without Jonathan Huberdeau).
They probably deserved better results than what they flew home from this trip with. But right now, they just cannot bury enough of their chances and while their goaltenders have been quite good, they haven’t been able to make the one miraculous save needed to steal a game.
“This whole trip, I don’t have an issue with any of it,” said Sutter. “We’ve played our butts off, quite honest, didn’t get much out of it.”
The Flames are back in action on Saturday night when they host the Winnipeg Jets.