Despite not playing a complete game by any stretch to that point, the Calgary Flames were in the driver’s seat less than two minutes into the third period. Two goals scored on consecutive shifts, just 17 seconds apart, broke a tie with the Seattle Kraken and gave the Flames a 4-2 lead.
But the same problem that plagued them early in the game – turnovers at key times – eroded their lead en route to a 5-4 home ice loss to a divisional foe.
“Our power play and penalty kill didn’t hold up very well in the third period,” noted head coach Darryl Sutter following the game.
After taking a 4-2 lead, the Flames took a pair of penalties – a Jonathan Huberdeau holding minor in the offensive zone followed by a Brett Ritchie interference minor in the defensive zone. The Flames managed to kill off Huberdeau’s penalty, their third successful kill of the night, but the Kraken cashed in on their fourth man advantage.
Daniel Sprong was left all alone to Dan Vladar’s left and Chris Tanev couldn’t block Alexander Wennberg’s pass with his stick, which allowed Seattle to cut the Flames’ lead to 4-3.
Justin Schultz took a minor in the Kraken zone a bit later, giving the Flames a golden opportunity to reinstate their two-goal cushion. Instead, Nazem Kadri’s attempted pass through the neutral zone careened off Yanni Gourde and landed between him and the Flames net at the blueline. Gourde went in and beat Vladar to tie the game at 2-2. (Kadri took responsibility for the turnover when speaking with the media following the game.)
Finally, Seattle took the lead after Milan Lucic coughed up a puck inside the offensive blueline, leading to a rush the other way. (It was initially four-on-one, but ended up being more of a three-on-one.) Jordan Eberle set up Matty Beniers for the game-winner.
Two penalties and two turnovers was all it took to turn a two-goal lead into a regulation loss.
“Seattle plays that game,” observed Sutter. “They block a lot and they don’t give you much, so you’ve got to be patient to play through it. Guys break, they turn pucks over. That’s what happened in the third. Same guys that were doing it in the first were doing it in the third.”
Post-game, Tyler Toffoli had a similarly blunt assessment of the team’s puck management.
“We kept turning the puck over and eventually it was going to bite us in the ass,” said Toffoli. “And obviously that’s what happened.”
The Flames out-shot Seattle 40-26 overall. Per Natural Stat Trick, five-on-five scoring chances were 27-15 and high-dangers were 10-5, both in favour of the Flames. But when the Flames gave Seattle chances, they gave them really good chances.
“I don’t think we gave up a ton,” said Kadri. “But just the quality of chances we have to improve on. That’s something that’s self-inflicted, and that’s something we can certainly own and fix.”
The Flames return to action on Thursday evening when they host the Nashville Predators.