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The Montreal Canadiens made their yearly visit to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday night. The Calgary Flames out-shot and out-chanced the Habs by a decent margin at five-on-five, but an early goalie gaffe and some porous power play sequences kept the Flames behind the eight-ball for much of the proceedings.
The Flames lost to Montreal by a 2-1 score, dropping them back down to the .500 mark.

The rundown

This was a weird game.
Montreal scored 13 seconds in. Off the opening draw, the puck blooped into the Flames zone with no defenders in sight. With Sean Monahan chasing it down, Jacob Markstrom charged out to smother the puck. He couldn’t smother it, and just knocked it away from Monahan. But Juraj Slafkovsky grabbed the loose puck and scored into a wide-open, goalie-less net to give Montreal a 1-0 lead.
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The Flames had plenty of good offensive looks as period wore on, including a breakaway chance by Blake Coleman and a chance in-close from Adam Ruzicka. But Jake Allen was sharp.
First period shots were 12-6 Flames (9-6 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 9-5 Flames (high-dangers were 4-0 Flames).
The Flames played pretty well in the second period and kept pressing for the game-tying goal. They were not flawless, though. Chris Tanev inadvertently put a puck on Nick Suzuki’s stick right around the Flames net, and a Rasmus Andersson giveaway led to a partial breakaway chance from Slafkovsky that hit the post beyond Markstrom.
On the offensive side, the Flames had oodles of chances but couldn’t get anything past Jake Allen. Adam Ruzicka hit the crossbar on a power play chance, and it seemed like the Flames might never score.
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But the Flames got a goal late – and may have gotten away with a borderline penalty, if we’re being honest here – as Elias Lindholm shoved down Mike Matheson and got possession of the puck in the Montreal zone. That led to a bit of a scramble in front of Allen, leading to Jonathan Huberdeau finding Lindholm all alone at the far post for a tap-in that tied the game up at 1-1. It was the 25th shot that Allen faced.
Second period shots were 13-8 Flames (9-7 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-5 Flames (high-dangers were 3-3).
The Habs got the lead back six and a half minutes into the third period. After a whistle, Jacob Markstrom and Josh Anderson had words. Andrew Mangiapane barrelled in and expressed his displeasure with Anderson being in his goalie’s personal space, and after a crowd formed, Mangiapane got a roughing minor. 31 seconds into Montreal’s power play, Cole Caufield buried a one-timer feed from Nick Suzuki to give Montreal a 2-1 lead.
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The Flames pressed late but just couldn’t get the equalizer.
Third period shots were 21-5 Flames (13-4 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-4 Flames (high-dangers were 7-1 Flames).

Why the Flames lost

First, the good: the Flames got a ton of pucks on net, especially from the home plate and net-front area. They got volume and quality, something they don’t often produce.
But here’s the challenge: Allen saw most of the pucks that were put on net, even the in-close ones. He was quite good, but the Flames weren’t getting a lot of screens or redirects.
The bigger challenge was that the Flames’ power play had plenty of opportunities to give the club a boost. They had 12 shots on net on their PPs, but (again) they didn’t do a whole lot to elevate those shots into really great scoring chances.
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Red Warrior

Let’s go with Mikael Backlund. He was strong at the face-off dot and generated a lot of chances, shots and overall energy throughout the game.

Turning point

In a one-goal game, it’s gotta be Montreal’s go-ahead goal. Caufield absolutely buried Suzuki’s feed, and absolutely made the Flames pay for Mangiapane’s minor. Their power play was a difference-maker.

This and that

2013 first-round selection Sean Monahan returned to the Saddledome for the first time since his July trade to Montreal. He received the requisite tribute video and ovation at the first TV timeout.
Monahan was credited with two assists in his return to the ‘Dome.

Up next

The Flames (10-10-3) are back in action on Saturday evening when they host the Washington Capitals.