You know what time it is? Almost curling time! That means the Calgary Flames gotta get the heck outta here and give up their rink for some nice rocks and brooms. Before they relinquished their barn, though, they hosted the pesky Anaheim Ducks, the one Pacific Division team the Flames don't seem to have quite the handle on just yet. And, uh, well. Hmm.
Things got off to a bit of a slow start, as both teams were doing a pretty good job of completely clogging up their middles, disrupting most attempts to get the pucks on net. When pucks did reach the net, well, Jonas Hiller and John Gibson are both competent enough goalies to ensure nothing happens.
Enter: Corey Perry.
Literally. Because as Perry was driving to the net, he also ran Hiller and tumbled over him and in. He kinda just curled up there for a while as the whistle went, and he was sent off for goaltender interference.
The ensuing powerplay gave us more stupidity from the Ducks, as Clayton Stoner, for whatever reason, decided it would be a great idea to charge into Johnny Gaudreau while the rookie's back was turned to him and he was looking for the puck down along the boards. Fortunately, Gaudreau - who is apparently impervious to injury, bless - got right back up, and was able to continue playing, as Hartley kept his first powerplay unit out there for the 46-second five-on-three.
Unfortunately, the Flames didn't make Anaheim pay for their gross transgressions. Seriously, don't run into people from behind. Jerks. That includes when you're at the net, which the Ducks continued to do... Jiri Hudler went to the net, and Ben Lovejoy pushed him in. Sean Monahan came in, and Nate Thompson started trying to crosscheck him in the back of the head for whatever reason.
Being jerks doesn't preclude you from having a decent penalty kill, however, with Gibson stopping Mikael Backlund's glorious chance right before the game returned to even strength.
Even strength suited the Flames just fine, though! The fourth line was happy just to be there, cycling the puck in the offensive zone, but they went beyond that. Cam Fowler couldn't resist the allure of Big Joe Colborne's size, and gave the puck right to him in the slot. Colborne shot. Gibson saved. Matt Stajan was all alone for the rebound. And thus, the Flames took a wonderous 1-0 lead. In the first period! How quaint.
Kris Russell followed it up with a great shot and chance of his own, and Gibson's rebound didn't go to any waiting Flames in the slot, so the score stayed at one.
The Ducks were unhappy with these events, as yet another scrum formed. They are a team of babies. The Flames left with the 1-0 lead, outshooting the Ducks 11-9, and out-corsiing them 22-16.
The chippy game got even chippier as the second kicked off with yet another scrum. This was followed up by David Jones delivering Stoner a big hit, and Stoner getting grumpy and taking a retaliatory cross-checking penalty against him. Stoner is a very generous contributor to the "give the Flames a powerplay" fund.
It would have gone better had the Flames actually done something with it - and if, say, Rafa Diaz hit the net - but alas, the Flames would have to wait for even strength yet again.
Dennis Wideman collected the puck from the point, and with a clear path to the net, took his shot. Lance Bouma was right there to tip it five hole, putting the Flames up by two. Francois Beauchemin was unhappy about this and sent Bouma tumbling down, making his goal celebration of a backwards somersault all the more adorable.
We love you, Lance. You're the best top six forward we've ever known.
Stoner decided to stop gooning it up and try to get a goal of his own right after, but Hiller had no problems staying right with him.
And with that, it was as though a switch had been flipped. The Ducks stopped taking penalties, as that was now the job for the NHL's tiniest goon: Johnny Hockey. Is it really a penalty if you high stick Ryan Kesler, though?
... It is?
If there's one guy you want jumping out of the penalty box as your team is rushing the puck back up the ice, though, it's Gaudreau. And that's exactly what happened, as the Flames were unthreatened by the Ducks' powerplay, and Gaudreau joined Monahan in the rush, toying with the Ducks in their own zone. They even almost got Colborne a goal, but Colborne missed the puck, and the wide open net with it.
Unfortunately, watching Johnny and Mony play could not last forever, and a poor line change granted the Ducks entry into the Flames' zone. From there, Perry took the shot, and Andrew Cogliano drove the net as it went off Hiller's glove and ultimately in.
The Flames responded with a four-on-one that they failed to capitalize on. And it was a good four-on-one! It had the top line, and also TJ Brodie! Brodie ended up with the shot, but Hampus Lindholm blocked it, keeping it a one-goal game.
Late faceoffs in the Flames' end forced them to be sharp, but the Flames held strong and actually decided to enter the third period with a lead, this one of the 2-1 variety. The Flames were now being outshot 25-19, and out-corsied 45-43.
The Ducks, apparently uncomfortable when not making asses of themselves, resorted right back to goonery. This time, it was Perry's careless stick handling as he clipped Jones' skates, sending the Flames' sole right winger down and granting Calgary their fourth powerplay of the game. They did not score.
Perry was sprung exiting the box and looked to have a break, but Mark Giordano came back with him perfectly to complete cut him off and prevent him from even getting a shot attempt off.
The Ducks, however, were not to be denied. The Flames' top line couldn't keep the puck in the offensive zone, and their bottom defence pairing couldn't do much of anything. Andrew Cogliano took it and went wide on Diaz. Beauchemin just needed to stand in front of the net, totally unhindered by a Deryk Engelland doing... well... nothing, really, to finish off Cogliano's work and tie the game.
Really, everyone could have done more on that one.
And then Getzlaf banked the puck off the back boards, and the puck bounced right up to Hiller's leg, off it, and in, giving the Ducks their first lead of the game, 3-2.
It was not a banner third period for the Flames, which was odd, and also very sad. Kyle Palmieri beat out Backlund right in front of the Flames' net, and with Hiller unable to handle the puck, potted it, giving them a 4-2 lead. And then Jakob Silfverberg capitalized on a Flames failed clearing attempt. Four goals for the Ducks in just under 10 minutes.
We don't need to relive all that, nope.
It was pretty much over, but hey, gotta keep playing until the final buzzer, right? Patrick Maroon went off for slashing Russell, and finally, on their fifth try, the Flames managed to capitalize. With a special guest appearance by Curtis Glencross on the powerplay, he and Monahan whacked away at Gibson, until eventually the puck sprung out to Monahan, cutting the lead to 5-3.
With just under two minutes left, so... probably meaningless.
Lindholm with an empty net goal from his own end? Yeah that would do it, giving the Ducks the 6-3 win. The Ducks stormed back to outshoot the Flames 38-28, and edge them out on corsi, 64-63.
Flame of the game
Man. I dunno. Let's just give it to Lance Bouma and call it a day. He scored his second in two straight games, giving him his first goal-scoring streak of the year. He also has four in six games now, which is pretty good for a fourth liner-turned-top six guy (thanks to Backlund). He was pretty noticeable on the rush several times, as well.
- The Flames' second line had a fair amount of jump early in the game. They got the first scoring chance, as Bouma was whacking away at Gibson early on, with Backlund right in front of the slot, ready in case the puck came to him (it didn't, but still). Bouma had a chip pass up to Jones who just failed to get around Stoner for a shot on net. Backlund had a great zone entry in part of a second line rush, culminating a chance for Brodie. And Bouma had another couple rushes of his own, only to get cut off by Ducks defencemen such as Lindholm and Beauchemin.
- Man, Lindholm had a hell of a game for the Ducks. A couple of absolutely crucial blocks that stopped the Flames from going up more than 2-0, and his impeccable defence was rewarded with an empty netter. Good for him.
- Stajan's goal was his first in 17 games, since he scored two against the Florida Panthers back on Jan. 9.
- Johnny Goondreau. He now has six penalty minutes in three games. Look out, NHL: Johnny's coming for you with his high stick, which in theory shouldn't even be able to reach anyone's face, and yet...
- Speaking of goons, thank goodness the Flames have grit and toughness. Where would the Flames be if Bollig and Engelland weren't there to utilize their bodies? Why, a Duck could just hang out in front of the net, unchallenged, and score. Or someone precious to the team, like Gaudreau, could get run from behind. The Flames sure are lucky they've got such great grit in the lineup.
- The fourth line looks significantly less ideal without Paul Byron around. Stajan and Colborne are still capable enough, but Byron is that line's driver, and Bollig cannot, in any conceivable way, replace him. (And if you want to talk about grit, remember that Byron hits people, too, and size doesn't necessarily mean a thing.)
- For whatever reason, Wideman was initially a part of the first powerplay unit, including during the five-on-three. Diaz later replaced him, but Wideman was back with Giordano at the game's end.
- Also for whatever reason, Russell took his spot back on the powerplay, replacing... Brodie. Which should not be a thing, because Brodie is kind of one of the Flames' best defencemen, not to mention one of their highesct scoring, despite not getting the powerplay time Giordano and Wideman do.
- The Flames entered the game with a 14-0-0 record when leading after two. So... that came to an end.
- Some possible parting gifts from Glencross included five shots on net, including a couple that looked nice but went right into Gibson's chest, and what would have been a sure perfect assist on a passing play from Mason Raymond. He took the puck cross-ice and sent it cross-crease to Markus Granlund, but that dang Lindholm's stick got in the way and just edged the puck's path enough to make Granlund whiff. Welp, if this was the end, Curtis... it's been alright.
... the Flames hadn't been so short-sighted and hellbent on "toughness" before the season started, and had never acquired Bollig or Engelland? Gosh, what a world we could have been living in. What a world.
... Brodie got substantial powerplay time? Are we all just ignoring the fact that he and Giordano are amazing together, and should probably be partners with the man advantage, too? Eh? What's up with that?
That's it for our time at home, as the Brier is about to set up shop in the Saddledome. The Flames will embark on a seven-game eastern swing, kicking off on Feb. 24 against the New York Rangers. Are you ready for a couple of weeks of 5 p.m. game starts?? Yay. See you then!