The Calgary Flames were in Brooklyn tonight to take on the New York Islanders on the second stop of their road trip. Changes were made as Joni Ortio started in net. Jakub Nakladal and Mason Raymond were healthy scratches while Lance Bouma, T.J. Brodie, and Michael Ferland were on the injured list.
Change proved to be a good thing during the first period when Ortio made every stop on net through 20 minutes. He was focused and stayed with the puck even though some of his stops were a little unorthodox. The Flames had some fire, but couldn't capitalize. They still needed to work on their long passes, and the defense needed to tighten up, but, they played a good first period of hockey. Joe Colborne had a good couple chances on Halak, but he couldn't bury the puck. Mark Giordano played like a man possessed - he skated hard, he got into the plays, and he shot hard, in typical Gio fashion. Michael Frolik seemed to have a tough start this season with no goals yet, but it's not for a lack of trying. Night after night, he has a lot of shots on net, but can't seem to find the back of the net. A late period Islanders penalty in the Flames zone gave the visiting team a chance to surge ahead, but again they came up short. No score at the end of the first frame.
Frustrations were beginning to run high at the start of the second period when Harmonic laid out Johnny Gaudreau and Monahan stepped up and got in Harmonic's face before the Islander made his way to the penalty box. Flames pressure was good, but not quite good enough. It was all Flames in the first few minutes of the period and Colborne was a key player through two periods. Even Jiri Hudler couldn't solve Halak with a couple good chances at the net. In the later part of the second, the Flames started losing steam and it began with Brandon Bollig getting a penalty after shoving an Islanders player into Halak. Just as the penaltly expired and Bollig made his way onto the ice, Dougie Hamilton immediately took a delay of game penalty. And that's when the Islanders struck first with a power play goal. Ortio stood tall and made impressive save after impressive save, but he could only hold out so long. The bright spot in the back to back penalties was Giordano who was running opposing players and trying to spark the Flames into action. The score was 1-0 for the home team at the end of two.
As is the norm so far this season, Hartley was playing with the lines a bit in the third period when he put Sam Bennett with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, and Jiri Hudler was on a line with Joe Colborne and Derek Grant. It was the beginning of the end after Ortio let in a nasty bouncing puck. The Islanders were up 2-0. Calgary tried to keep up the momentum, and they did for a while, which gave me some hope, but in the end, after spending a few minutes in the New York zone, the Islanders took the puck down the ice and scored instantly, making it 3-0. But they weren't done yet as they had one more disappointing blow left with less than 2 minutes left on the clock. The final score was 4-0 for the home team.
It's disheartening to watch a team that has worked so hard and kept up their effort for most of the game, losing only because of a few momentary lapses in energy. I still see a lot of talent on this team and the potential to win is so close, but they just can't seem to keep it all together for a full 60 minutes. Either the defense falls apart, they can't generate any offence, or the goalie problems get in the way of keeping them each game (or a combination of all three). It seems to be a theme this season that the Flames start out strong and flicker out as each period passes by. Their first period appearances have been spectacular and their best periods of hockey. But by the third, the comebacks seem so far from reach.
Flame of the game
Mark Giordano. He worked hard, stole chances from New York, shot rockets on net, led his team, gave praise to his teammates, and played to his best ability. He's a natural leader and I think the Flames got lucky to be able to sign him in 2004 as a free agent.
The Calgary Flames will have a day off tomorrow before they head to Ottawa to take on the Senators Wednesday night. The Sens are 3-3-2 so far this season and the Flames will have to dig deep to match Karlsson and the up-and-coming Atlantic Division team.
Go Flames Go!