The Flames winning streak officially came to an end last night, as the home side came back from being one down three times in this game before eventually falling 4-3 in a shootout. With the loser point, the Flames remain one point out of eighth in the West, tied with Minnesota at 59 points, although the Wild have two games in hand.
The Kings wouldn't take long to put a dent in the scoresheet, as Rob Scuderi would score just his second goal of the season 39 seconds into the opening frame. The Flames responded less than a minute later, as Robyn Regehr found the back of the net with his first of the season to tie things up at one and set the tone for what appeared to be a high-scoring affair. The two sides would settle things down after that, but Dustin Brown would score on a Kings powerplay with just over six minutes remaining in the period. Despite the one-goal advantage for L.A., the first twenty minutes ended up being nearly even, with the Kings holding the slight in edge in shots and the home side in possession of the advantage in scoring chances.
The second period was again back-and-forth in nature, as Alex Tanguay scored before the frame was a minute old to even things up for the home side. The Flames would take advantage of two powerplays in the opening ten minutes of the period to build up a lead in shots and chances, but the Kings would storm back thanks to some undisciplined play by the Flames, and Justin Williams would put his team ahead for the third time with his 19th of the season at 11:02.
With the Flames chasing, the third period saw the home side push the pace a little more, as they began generating some good pressure with their forecheck and drawing penalties. With Jared Stoll off for tripping up Mark Giordano at 11:15, Tanguay scored his second of the game to make it three-all. Both teams had opportunities to end the game in regulation, but nothing especially dangerous transpired, as the final frame concluded with scoring chances tied at three per side and the Flames leading 7-4 in shots on goal.
The OT period would solve nothing, and the Kings and Flames, two of the NHL's best shootout squads, were off to the SO. After the first two shooters for each side scored, three Flames shooters (Olli Jokinen, Jarome Iginla, and Jay Bouwmeester) all found the iron in a bizarre twist of fate before Justin Williams finally potted the winner for the Kings in the seventh round. Thus ended the streak.
I was pretty impressed with Lance Bouma in his debut last night, despite the fact that he only played 4:34, all at ES. He finished the game with one shot on goal and one blocked shot, +2 in scoring chances and Corsi, and wasn't hesitant to throw his weight around or mix it up in front of the net. Somehow Tom Kostopoulos ended up playing more than Backlund and Bouma combined at ES despite the fact that they began the evening on the same line, although he did see the most time on the PK of any Flames forward. It's a real shame that Backlund seems to be getting less and less ice time every game, even after scoring the winning goal in Atlanta earlier this week. There's only so much you can do in six minutes of ice time; it has to be frustrating for the kid, and with Hagman injured I'm not sure demoting him is an option.
Alex Tanguay was a beast in this game, which goes without saying by taking a glimpse at his stat line. Two goals, an assist, and seven shots on goal for the 31-year old, who finished +3 in scoring chance differential both at EV and on the powerplay, and +2 in Corsi. He did so while going up against the likes of Drew Doughty, Ryan Smith, and Dustin Brown as well as being on the ice for seven defensive zone draws, the second most on the team. It's almost as if he's playing for a new contract or something.
I have to admit I was expecting the Flames to pack it in in regulation in this one, but they proved me wrong, out-shooting the Kings at EV and overcoming three one-goal deficits and playing what was, overall, a decent game before succumbing to the cruel whims of the Skills Competition. The streak had to end some time and this was far from the worst way for that to happen. There's nothing worse than seeing your team go on a lengthy winning streak only to have it snuffed out by a blowout loss to a less-than reputable opponent, so, at least there's that.
The Flames are off today before taking on the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow in the second of a four game homestand. The 'Hawks have fallen out of playoff contention as a result of streaking teams like the Flames and Kings, but they could overtake the former with a victory tomorrow night.