Coming off a fantastic win against the arch-rival Edmonton Oilers, the Flames looked to string things together against one of the worst possession teams in the NHL. In a baffling, frustrating game, nothing went the Flames' way, and they fell to the Avalanche 6-3, continuing one of the worst starts this franchise has ever seen.
The Flames didn't get off to their greatest start (an understatement) when David Jones took a penalty 36 seconds into the game to prevent a Erik Johnson goal. Thankfully, the Flames killed it off without incident, and took control of the game shortly after. Calgary put up relentless pressure, with TJ Brodie and Sam Bennett leading the charge. Everything looked crisp, especially the passing and the offensive output, however they could not get by the Avalanche's shot blocking defence.
As per usual, the one mistake the Flames made in the period was the one they had to pay for. And yes, it was late in the period. The Avs caught the Flames on a bad change, and Matt Duchene made a few moves around some sprawling defencemen to put the puck in the net even after Karri Ramo made the initial save. 1-0 Avs. The Flames led corsi 27-21, but the Avs led in shots 17-11 after one.
The Flames responded quickly to the late goal, keeping the pressure on early in the second period. Eventually, they broke through when Johnny Gaudreau and David Jones went in on a 2-on-1. Gaudreau fired a puck past Semyon Varlamov, and tied the game 1-1.
This did not mean the end of the Flames' bad luck, especially for Sam Bennett. The 19 year old came crashing in on the Avalanche net, and nearly scored the go-ahead goal, but came in a bit too hard knocking the net off before the puck could cross the line. Unfortunately, it was the right call, and was confirmed by the command centre in Toronto. Still 1-1.
Of course, the positive momentum didn't continue for long. The Avalanche found themselves actually sustaining offensive pressure for once in the game, and they made it count. Tyson Barrie threw the puck across the ice for a tip-in from our old friend Jarome Iginla, making it 2-1 for the Avs. Sigh.
Back to Sam Bennett, who apparently broke a few mirrors before this game. Once again causing chaos in the offensive end, Bennett tapped the puck under Varlamov for the tying goal, but was again waived off, due to the whistle having gone before the puck crossed the line. This disallowed goal was more or less questionable, as it was uncertain whether or not Varlamov completely had control of the puck, but the decision was final.
Did you think this was the end? Well then, you should probably stop reading here, so you can remain somewhat happy. The Avs also found themselves in penalty trouble in the second period, but the Flames failed to make them count. Even after Dougie Hamilton did his best to draw a penalty, the powerplay was particularly terrible, as it looked more like the Avalanche were the ones with a man advantage. Erik Johnson teed up a nice shot that beat Karri Ramo, and the Avs were in control of the game 3-1.
But back to Bennett again! Refusing to give in under the difficult circumstances, the pivot finally put a puck in the net on a wraparound late in the period. Karma (occasionally) balances out! The score was 3-2 at the end of the second, with corsi being dead even at 20-20, but the Flames lost the shot battle 13-7.
The never quit Flames began the third looking to capitalize on the late momentum, and they did! Mark Giordano fired one in, deflecting off of a few sticks and into the net. Avs head coach Patrick Roy was pleading for a high stick call, but this goal was clearly legal. After further review, it was determined to be Jiri Hudler's goal, and the game was all tied 3-3.
Then the floodgates broke open. Nathan MacKinnon was left completely alone in the slot, and fired one past Ramo for the 4-3 lead. 42 seconds later, Mason Raymond took an offensive zone tripping call. 46 seconds after that, Duchene deflected a Francois Beauchemin point shot for the 5-3 lead. One second after that, most TVs in the Calgary area were shut off. Jarome Iginla added an empty net goal later, sealing a 6-3 win for the Avalanche. Flames lost the corsi and shot battle in the third, 21-19 and 12-7 respectively. In total, the Flames outpossessed the Avs 66-62, but were outshot 42-25.
- TJ Brodie led the team in ice time with 23:06. He also finished with a +3 rating. He's pretty good.
- Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau were your soul offensive contributors for the night, each racking up a goal and eight shots between the two. It was really bad luck that they didn't get more.
- Having given up 55 goals in 13 games, something has to be done about the goaltending. While we love to blame defensive strategies, the Flames have allowed less high danger chances than you'd think. Someone has to be held accountable
- Mikael Backlund was benched for no reason, after playing with Brandon Bollig for no reason. Someone should also be held accountable for that.
- This was probably the most frustrating game to watch this year. The Flames lost to a team that has no way to prevent shots besides shot blocking, which is perhaps the most ironic thing to happen for this franchise in a long time. If you didn't hate indiscriminate shot blocking before this game, you certainly hated it afterwards.
- Speaking of which, Joe Colborne shot the puck right into an Avalanche defender on a 4-on-2 with at least two options wide open. Maybe it's time to stop relying him as an offensive producer.
- I miss Jarome Iginla so much. Time doesn't heal all wounds.
The Flames are back in action on Thursday at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. Maybe we'll get some good luck this time? Who really knows anymore.