The Calgary Flames started a week-long road trip this week when they travelled to New York to take on the Rangers. Even though Michael Ferland was out with a knee injury and listed as week to week, the Flames were hoping to keep up their momentum from their previous win against Detroit. Derek Grant, the 6'3" center, was called up from Stockton, where he garnered 3 goals in 3 games. Lance Bouman and T.J. Brodie are still on the inured list. Jonas Hiller started in net. And Mason Raymond was a healthy scratch.
Again, the Flames pressure had returned to start the game. But Mark Giordano got a little over-excited and took a tripping penalty early on, thanks to a little bit of over-acting from Detroit's Stepan. The Flames killed off the penalty, took the puck down the ice, and Jiri Hudler opened the scoring after a sweet back pass from Johnny Gaudreau. I didn't get too excited yet though because the Flames are 1-3-0 when scoring first. It didn't take long for Kreider to haul Mikael Backlund to the ice and the Flames went on a power play. No goals were scored, even when Giordano and Kreider both took penalties which led to 4 on 4. Jonas Hiller stopped a flurry of pucks in the first frame, but he needed to work on rebound control. Gio took yet another penalty for holding, but luckily the Flames stayed alive when Backlund had a good chance during a short handed breakaway. With much disappointment, he was stopped by Raanta. The penalty was killed off and the period ended with a 1-0 score for the Flames.
The beginning of the second period was full of excitement, pressure, and hope. But it didn't last long. The Flames came out with a mass amount of pressure in the first 15 minutes of the middle period as though they're trying to beat their typical 2nd period slump. Sam Bennett took a shot and Kris Russell picked up the rebound, but they couldn't capitalize. During a Flames power play, more than once, Johnny Gaudreau tried to calm the puck while putting his puck handling skills on display, but Raanta refused him every time. Dennis Wideman had a couple of good shots, but Raanta stoned him as well. Just when we were all riding the high from the Flames offensive prowess, their defense couldn't hold up. New York scored to tie the game. Before the end of the period, the Rangers scored again to put them up by one goal at the end of the period.
Even though Sam Bennett started off strong in the third period, it was the fading of the Flames as the blue line looked sloppy and lost. And that's when it all came tumbling down. The defence fell apart and the offence couldn't gain any kind of momentum. Hiller was a one-man show for the first while, but he faltered and let in another goal for New York...and then another one. With about 8 minutes left in regulation, Hiller was pulled and Joni Ortio got his chance in net. Ortio stood tall in spite of the rest of the game being all Rangers. The Calgary Flames fell 4-1 to the New York Rangers.
Even with all the frustration on ice and behind the bench, some of the players did a really good job of keeping it together. Giordano played aggressively, Joe Colborne created chances, and Josh Jooris played as he always has - to his highest potential every night. I have to admit, for as much as most will not agree with me, I was pretty impressed with Brandon Bollig tonight because he stepped up his pace, his speed, and his shots on net.
Flame of the game
Sam Bennett - he hit hard, he found space on the ice, and he created plays that led to shots on net. His confidence level seems to be at an all-time high, which was displayed in front of the New York net all night long, and he keeps getting better with time.
Tomorrow night, the Flames will take on the Islanders. With no rest between games, I have a feeling the fans (including myself) will be sitting on the edge of their seats for the entire game. The key for the Flames isn't necessarily to get a head-start early, but to keep a steady pace throughout the game.
Go Flames Go!