The Calgary Flames started their week-long road trip in Anaheim tonight to take on the Ducks. With the Ducks slumping this season, the Flames needed to capitalize on the pressure put upon the home team to succeed tonight, but they fell short. Kris Russell returned to the line-up tonight after leaving the game against Chicago with a hand injury. Jiri Hudler was out for another game while Mason Raymond took his place again. Jonas Hiller and Lance Bouma were also still absent from the bench with injuries. Karri Ramo got his 11th consecutive start in net and it was Dougie Hamilton's 100th game.
With a fight and two quick goals, the first period looked promising for the Calgary Flames. Michael Frolik and Sam Bennett opened the scoring and Karri Ramo was very aware of his opponents. But, when Khudobin was pulled and Gibson was put in net, everything changed. Perry scored for the Ducks from the side of the net and another Ducks goal tied the game before the end of the period. The Flames offense didn't push hard enough and the defensive team was caught playing the puck instead of covering their men. The bittersweet moment of the opening frame was that Frolik notched his 100th career goal. I don't usually agree with Kelly Hrudey, but I did this time. I loved that Hrudey called out Khudobin for not remaining with his team after he got yanked. Khudobin should have planted his butt on the bench with the rest of his team. Unless he had to go pee, there's no excuse for not being with your team. The perspective shifts only when nature calls.
In spite of dominating the first few minutes with pressure on the Ducks net, it wasn't a good period for Calgary. The offense couldn't finish, let alone clear the zone to set up plays, and Gibson was on his game tonight which made things even harder for the Flames. Ramo kept the visiting team alive long enough for the play to enter the Ducks zone for a moment when Sam Bennett slapped one to Frolik, who scored to put the Flames up 3-2 to end the period. Bennett, Frolik, and Backlund were easily the best line of the period.
Even with Ferland on a line with Gaudreau and Monahan, the Ducks quickly evened the score at 3-3. When Dennis Wideman took a penalty for cross-checking, Perry scored again to put the Ducks up 4-3 over the Flames. The Calgary power play looked messy and they couldn't seem to set anything up after Bennett took a punch to the face by Cogliano which sent him to the box. I noticed a lot of questionable plays that weren't being called, including slashing, interference, and tripping, but the Flames and Ducks forged ahead. Mikael Backlund had a good chance on net, but couldn't get it past Gibson. The Flames fell for the 21st consecutive time at the Honda Center in Anaheim with a final score of 5-3 for the Ducks after an empty net goal.
These are the games I dread watching because I know the skill level of this team is much better than what plays out on the ice. Mistakes were made and the players have a lot of work to do. My only hope is that they can take the lessons they learned from tonight's game and use them to their advantage on Friday against the Arizona Coyotes. In spite of the curse of Anaheim, the Flames are worth more than a 5-3 loss. And, like always, I'll be watching again on Friday to see if the chemistry has returned. It's there, they just need to find it.
Go Flames Go!