The Flames ventured to Glendale tonight to face the
Phoenix Arizona Coyotes. One team has shocked the hockey world in a good way (hint: they employ Max Domi and Anthony Duclair), while the other has been shocking for less pleasant reasons.
While the Flames came out strong against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, they were struck - once again - by the Honda Center curse, racking up a 21st consecutive loss in that horrid place. The Flames fared much better in the Gila River Arena, and were able to sweep the season series against the Coyotes last year.
Tonight's game provided the boys an opportunity to (hopefully) get back to their game. Also, Markus Granlund's back!
Kudos to anyone able to keep their eyes open through the opening frame.
While nothing exciting happened, there were three penalties called: two on Arizona and one called - questionably - on Micheal Ferland.
The two powerplays were less than stellar - with the Coyotes able to prevent the Flames from getting set-up - the best chances belonged to the blueliners, namely Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton. On the plus side, the Flames penalty kill was solid. There was less clearing than the Coyotes were able to accomplish, but the Flames were able to minimize shots faced by Karri Ramo, and get a shorthanded rush chance.
Aside from the poor powerplays, a solid period by the away team. Shots and Corsi were in favour of the Flames, 12-8 and 16-14, respectively. Score: 0-0.
Goals! They happened!
The Coyotes struck first, netting a goal in 29 seconds. Tobias Rieder threw the puck in front of the net, and the puck ricocheted off of Martin Hanzal's foot into an open net.
Ramo got tricked by a puck that hit a stanchion on it's way around the back of the net. Luckily, no one was expecting it, so even though he was stuck behind the net, the Flames did not get down by two.
It took the Flames two more powerplays to figure it out and tie the game. Holding the puck on the left side of the goal, none of Gio's teammates were moving or trying to drive toward the net. So he gave the puck to Jiri Hudler and parked himself in front of Mike Smith. Amazing what happens when you go to the net.
Thanks to two more powerplays, shots and Corsi were 9-5 and 24-13 for the Flames in the second. Score: 1-1.
The play was back and forth throughout the period, but tangible action was limited - as evidenced by the total shot count, 4-4, and Corsi, 11-11.
Penalties continued, goals did not. The Coyotes had the first powerplay, but a penalty to Oliver Ekman-Larsson cut the man advantage short. After 14 seconds of 4-on-4, the Flames went on the powerplay. Followed up by another Flames powerplay. They were about as exciting as those sentences.
Then, OEL almost got away with a dangerous hit on Giordano. A hit from behind right in Gio's numbers. But T.J. Brodie was having none of that, as he went to defend his partner. The whistle went to call Brodie on a cross-check, and after the scrum that ensued, OEL ended up in the box for boarding.
The 4-on-4 didn't solve anything, so the game went to overtime. Score 1-1.
Sweet, sweet Johnny-time. Only this time, the Coyotes weren't going to let Gaudreau get away with anything, as hard as he tried.
Giordano, Brodie, and Hudler decided to hypnotize the opponents by cycling the puck up high in a never-ending circle, to no avail.
With just 40 seconds left until a shootout would be required, OEL (A.K.A. the guy who took out the beloved Gio) got one past Ramo with a quick snap shot off a pass from behind the net.
Just like that, the Flames lost their first overtime. Score: 2-1.
Flame of the Game:
Dougie Hamilton, because he deserves some love. There were high expectations for him coming into the season, so he's taking a lot of flak for his play as he gets used to different (questionable-at-times) systems. Tonight he looked more solid defensively, played as well as anyone on the powerplay, and was able to get some scoring chances. He led the team in Corsi For (or shot attempts for while he was on the ice), and was the top blueliner in CF% (Corsi For divided by total number of shot attempts by both teams while he was on the ice).
- The Coyotes retro jerseys are amazing.
- Mike Smith's gear looked awesome - checking out the helmet is highly recommended. He was also solid in net (unfortunately).
- The Flames tried a new powerplay look tonight, with four forwards and one defenceman. Seemed to only last one and a half chances before Bob went back to the traditional 3F-2D configuration.
- Can anyone figure out what's up with Hudler? He just couldn't keep the puck for the life of him tonight.
- Knowing the proportion of snowbirds from Calgary in Phoenix in November, one could guess that the average age in the crowd tonight was higher compared to other arenas. Yet, the music was very current. It was an interesting mix.
The Flames return to California to take on the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night (8PM MST)! Join us here tomorrow for the game preview, gamethread, recap, and the new-this-season Rate the Flames.