Four straight wins including two against San Jose and Los Angeles coming into this final night of the roadtrip; how would the Flames fare? Not good, friends. Not good.
But hey, there are some legitimate positives to take away from this road trip. We got to see the emergence of Joni Ortio and then tonight's subsequent downfall heading into the All-Star break. Sean Monahan's continued sophomore play is one beautiful story to follow this season. Oh, and Mikael Backlund keeps doing everything he can.
First Period -
Right off the start of the game, future hair-model Sean Monahan had an incredible scoring chance in close as Corey Perry and David Jones knocked down Frederik Andersen. Perry made up the scramble in close and blocked the shot. The Ducks bounced back immediately and went up the ice gaining the zone and testing Joni Ortio early on. Mikael Backlund would be the recipient of a near-breakaway goal however he was hauled down while getting his shot off. No call on the play for some reason.
Immediately after or so it seemed, after a Johnny Gaudreau giveaway in the defensive zone, the Ducks were able to capitalize; allowing Matt Beleskey to feed Kyle Palmieri a perfect pass to make it 1-0.
The goal would be Palmieri's ninth of the season. Gaudreau would have another bad break coughing the puck up again to former Flame and Heritage Classic hero Rene Bourque leading to another scoring chance.
Andrew Cogliano would be sinister and slash Matt Stajan's stick out of his hand sending the Flames to what can only be described as a power play...? The Flames never got a real chance or shot on net but Ryan Getzlaf, former Calgary Hitman and bald man got an incredible short-handed chance on net. The Flames would get another PP chance as Beleskey would take a slashing call on returnee Josh Jooris sending the Flames back to the man-advantage.
They wouldn't generate much beyond three shots but the biggest concern was seeing Brandon Bollig on the PP. We'll talk about that further down. Shortly after the PP expired, Patrick Maroon would sneak in behind the Flames defense and tip in a Ben Lovejoy point shot making it 2-0.
Only a couple minutes after that, on a defensive zone draw Ben Lovejoy's point-shot would deflect in off of Kris Russell giving the Flames a three goal hole to attempt to crawl out of. The period would end with the Flames having a slight edge in shots 10-8 over the Ducks.
Second Period -
The Ducks started the period taking another dumb penalty as Corey Perry tripped up Mark Giordano. The power play looked noticeably better compared to the two we had in the first period. The Flames were relentless and doing as much as possible to keep zone control. Unfortunately they wouldn't score but hey, two shots isn't too bad compared to that first one. RIGHT?!
Beleskey would get dragged down off a faceoff by David Jones sending the Ducks to the power play. The Flames killed the penalty better than they played on the power play! They would kill it off limiting the Ducks to virtually nothing giving them the opportunity to respond. Dennis Wideman would force a turnover in the neutral zone allowing Johnny Gaudreau to get a great shot off. The team looked more composed and focused but it wouldn't last.
For some ungodly reason the Flames had difficulty in their own zone against the Ducks' fourth line after Rene Bourque clipped Wideman awkwardly in the neutral zone. Bourque would feed former Flames pugilist Tim Jackman as he roofed it past Ortio to make it 4-0.
That would be the end of Ortio's night as Jonas Hiller would go into goal against his former team. The move would ignite the Flames as Mikael Backlund would snipe his sixth of the season off a faceoff to put the Flames on the board and make it a 4-1 game.
The Ducks would go back to work trying to strength their lead again as the top line of Getzlaf, Perry, and Maroon would hem the Flames in their own zone for a long time. Fortunately they would get out and Gaudreau would continue to make up for his sub-par play in the first. He would feed his father Hudler out front for a great chance but Andersen would hold firm.
After getting hemmed in their own zone again by the fourth line, the Flames would break out as Gaudreau would start the play dropping it off to Giordano, Gaudreau would head in to the low slot feeding Sean Monahan a perfect pass who would rip it past Andersen to make it a 4-2 game.
The goal would be Monahan's 15th of the season as it pulled the Flames within two. The period would end with the Flames down by two and the Flames outshooting the Ducks 23-16.
Third Period -
Immediately into the period, the Flames continued with the momentum they had leaving the second behind. A strong zone entry from Sean Monahan and then pass to Giordano would be the first quality shot on net. A scramble in close to Andersen almost resulted in the Flames making it 4-3 as it could have been a one-goal game very easily. Unfortunately the Ducks' depth allows them to roll three (four if you count how capable the fourth line was against Calgary tonight) lines which took advantage of zone time to cause havoc.
Luck occurred and the Flames were able to get out of their zone and force the Ducks to ice the puck not once, or twice, but three times in a row. The bemoaning Anaheim crowd booing loudly after the third icing was music to my ears. The Flames would have a couple decent chances mid-way through the period thanks to David Jones and Gaudreau toe-dragging Sami Vatanen.
Hiller would be tested in the third thanks to his former teammates giving him all kinds of hell. The Anaheim top-line continued to find ways to dominate at the right opportunities as well as create crafty plays to drive possession. Stajan would take a penalty that the Flames would successfully kill which was a small positive.
A scramble in front of Hiller would result in the Ducks claiming they scored but fortunately widely hated referee Tim Peel made the right call waiving it off. The NHL war-room also agreed with the call on the ice keeping it a 4-2 game.
After a failed zone clear by David Jones, the Ducks would pounce on it as Corey Perry would easily outwork Deryk Engelland; and Josh Jooris would puck watch allowing a crisp pass to Getzlaf to occur as he beat Hiller high glove side to make it a 5-2 game. The entire sequence isn't for the squeamish.
The Flames would battle back trying to make this a 5-5 game. The strong play of Backlund and Rapahel Diaz keeping the play onside in the Anaheim zone allowed Diaz to blast it into the corner. The Flames jumped on the puck giving Wideman the chance to "activate" as Sportsnet calls it throwing it on net. The puck bouncing as Bouma tried to smack it in, allowing mighty (not jumbo) Joe Colborne to bat home his fifth of the season.
Calgary driven by the play of Monahan, Backlund, Hudler, and Gaudreau would keep trying to generate chances but even with Hiller pulled they couldn't do it. Ryan Kesler would add an empty net goal to make it 6-3 snapping the winning streak. Oh and the Ducks extended their dominance of the Flames in Anaheim.
Calgary would finish with 33 shots to Anaheim's 27.
Stray Observations -
- Things could have been different if Backlund didn't miss that empty net on that turnover. Maybe we'd be watching a shootout or the game would have ended in OT? Who knows. Oh well, life goes on. We're still playing okay hockey.
- God damn Sean Monahan, he was everywhere tonight. A rough night in the faceoff dot (43%) but he had 2:30 of PP time, 0:52 of PK time, and a grand total of 20:11 played. His chemistry with Gaudreau and Hudler is growing. We need to see this happen more.
- Johnny Hockey had a rough first period and then turned on for the remaining two. I'm not worried about games like this, he's a rookie after all. These things happen and we all know he is capable of hitting his stride in these situations and creating things. He did tonight playing 17:49 total with 2:06 on the PP. Oh and he lead the team in shots with seven. The opportunity to show off his skill set in Columbus for the ASG will be a nice break for him. He's earned it.
- Brandon Bollig played 0:59 on the power play tonight. Words cannot fathom how I feel about this. I'll say this though: Hartley is a moron for allowing that. I don't understand the rationale behind it and it didn't help. That said, he had a decent scoring chance and that's good. He isn't Tim Jackman of a few years ago when you could plant him on the PP in that weird experiment. I hope we never see this again.
- Lance Bouma is the product of putting him on a line with talented players and seeing him get points. He had two assists tonight, 17:49 of ice time, and wasn't completely a tire fire. He's not a top six guy and Hartley's line juggling/composition is confusing. The positives? Bouma is putting up some career numbers. He passed his goals and assists highs of last year as of tonight. Now he has six goals and 11 assists on the season in 45GP.
- Josh Jooris looked overwhelmed tonight. The time on the IR definitely had an impact on his game. Though he had some positives tonight. 67% in faceoffs, 1:47 of PP time, and 0:52 of PK time. Grand total: 12:49 of ice time in his return. It's not optimal having him in a top six role but it is what it is now.
- Matt Stajan finally got a bit more TOI tonight. 10:25 total. As I said the other day, he would benefit more of a third-line role but I don't play the game or coach the game. I just sit here and write. He was 67% in faceoffs, so some positives there.
- I liked what Rafa Diaz did on keeping the play alive that lead to the Colborne goal. It was smart (if it was intentional) and it ended up being one of his better moments this season. 13:26 played tonight with a partner who can barely do anything.