A disappointing game for the Flames. They came out all wrong in this game, it was like they learned nothing from the previous loss to the Oilers on Feb 21. It was a frustrating game to watch from the Flames perspective because the Flames know how to beat the Oilers but they just insisted on playing a run and gun style that gives the Oilers the advantage.
The Oilers are a highly skilled offensive team but they are beatable with a trap, by clogging up the neutral zone, taking the open ice away and close checking. Way too much open ice and a Flames forward ranks that was all the way into the O-zone and had little concern with back checking.
The game started with a big check from Cory Sarich on Taylor Hall. Hall caught an edge and was going down as Sarich was pinching in to check him. This moment caused non-stop outrage from the Oiler fan base for pretty much the rest of the game but really I am not sure how you blame Sarich for Hall falling down and putting his head at Sarich's waist level. It was unfortunate and hopefully Hall has no long-term ill effects but what can the checking player do in this incident. Hall did not return to the game.
It set a bit of a strong tone to the game early on but if anything it seemed to serve the Oilers interests not the Flames as they clearly controlled the entire first period.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put the Oilers up by one at the half-way mark and Jordan Eberle put in the second Oiler goal 15 min in. The Flames looked scrambly and disoriented as a fast Oilers team moved the puck at will through the Flames zone. Rush after rush saw the Iginla line go down the ice but the puck battles were lost and the Oilers surged back time after time.
The shots were even in the first but the scoring chances were definitely in the Oilers favor. The second period saw the Flames slowly get back to their game. A complete fluke goal deflected off of Ladislav Smid gave the Flames a goal at the 12 min mark on a shot from Mark Giordano.
The third period had a bit of hope remaining for the Flames to come back and at least make it a single point game but again the Flames seemed to be incapable of bringing that urgency to the game that would result in the scoring chances they needed. They just never seemed to be back in it.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put in his 2nd of the night and game was put to bed with a 3-1 final score.
The fact the Flames could only muster a measly 2 shots in the final frame was really evidence of squad that had burned out at this point. They came out skating and hitting hard in the first but played the exact wrong type of game. A good old fashioned road game would have served them much better. They burned twice as bright half as long and this one was a tough loss.
A glorious oppurtunity to move up in the standings was squandered but the Flames are just getting started, it could have been worse.
The Kings won tonight but the Stars lost in regulation time to the Hawks. The Western playoff race continues to stay tight. The Flames are not going to do it the easy way, they are going to have to beat their direct playoff competition.
They have 10 games remaining, they need 14 points, however you want to break that out, that is the bottom line. It was a glorious opportunity tonight to jump up over the line into 7th place, it didn't happen and they sit now at the back of the pack with a game in hand only on Colorado.
The next five games will tell the tale on the season. As of today 5 teams are within one point of each other in the Western Playoff race, the margin for error is slim to none and the Flames just used their mulligan tonight against the Oilers...