Call it a Heritage Classic Hangover, a letdown, or whatever you please, but the Flames just weren't up to snuff tonight in a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, and have fallen to seventh place in the West as a result.
After falling behind 1-0 early on a bit of a strange goal by Milan Lucic, the Flames failed to convert on a powerplay not long afterwards and spent the remainder of the first period chasing, building up a 13-7 advantage in shots but finishing on the losing end of the scoring chance count after one. The score was still close enough that there was hope for a Flames comeback, but one got the feeling that Tim Thomas wasn't going to let that happen on this night.
In the second, the Bruins managed to limit the damage with the home side pressing for the equalizer, holding the Flames to just nine shots and four chances in the middle frame. Part of that was probably due to the four-minute powerplay they enjoyed with Curtis Glencross in the box for high-sticking that extended into the third period--it was Boston's only powerplay of the game and they took advantage of it, firing six shots at Miikka Kiprusoff.
After surviving the Bruins' onslaught, Glencross made up for his previous misdemeanor by bringing the Flames within one on a late powerplay with a side-of-the-net tap in at 17:27 of the final frame, but it was too late. Lucic secured the regulation victory for Boston with his second of the game, an empty net marker with just 47-seconds remaining in the game.
By all accounts, this was not a game where the Flames were terribly out-played. They out-shot the Bruins 26-23 at even strength but couldn't beat Thomas, who made a few game-saving stops despite the fact that Boston's defence managed to keep the majority of the Flames' shots and chances to the outside.
Kiprusoff held his team in this game virtually from the get-go and gave them a chance to win 'till the end, and ultimately the responsibility for this one falls on the Flames' skaters. They failed to make good on their opportunities and that was the difference in the end. Niklas Hagman had five shots on goal and finished in the black in both shots and chances in his first game since clearing waivers this morning, but was held pointless while Rene Bourque had just three shots and was -1 after recording two goals and a career-best 11 SOG on Sunday. Bourque was also the only forward to finish on the wrong side of the ledger in Corsi and was also in the red in chances. Another frustrating night for #17 after it appeared he was finally getting back on track.
As for the back-end, Steve Staios was on the ice for two of three Boston goals tonight and was the only blueliner to finish underwater in possession, and you have to wonder if we might see Brendan Mikkelson in the lineup again sometime soon. With Pardy likely done for the season, Mikkelson has yet to be re-assigned to Abbotsford and the switch-up could be beneficial with more than a few important games coming up for the Flames in the near future.
The first of those aforementioned important games comes this Friday when the Flames will look to stop the streaking San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have won four straight games and are closing in on the Phoenix Coyotes for the Pacific Division lead, as both teams are 8-2-0 in their past ten.