Fresh off of a 6-3 shellacking of Toronto, the Flames flew into Denver to face the Avalanche. The familiar foes from the heyday of the Northwest division, featuring Calgary’s most beloved player Jarome Iginla, and his best friend Alex Tanguay, are slowly creeping back into the playoff race, whereas the Flames look to further secure their position. It looked to be a promising one.
Despite all the playoff implications, the first period was kind of a dud. It began very evenly, with both teams spending time in each other’s zones. It wasn’t the exciting type of deadlock hockey, as both teams essentially did the same thing every rush: gain the zone, take a shot, turn the puck over, change. This went on for about 10 minutes.
The first real event of the game was Gabriel Landeskog running into Sean Monahan on a change, drawing a penalty. A pretty questionable call, but it was a prime chance to break the deadlock for the Flames. They wasted said chance. The powerplay’s modus operandi during the two minutes was passing a lot and letting the Avs clear the zone.
The powerplay only garnered one shot, but the Flames kept the momentum going. The Flames almost cracked Semyon Varlamov a few times, but the Russian keeper turned them away. Joe Colborne almost scored on a goalmouth scramble, but the referee blew his whistle a little bit early, and it didn’t count even after a review.
Tyson Barrie also RKO’d Josh Jooris at the end of the play, but nothing was called.
And so the lacklustre period ended. The second half resurgence for the Flames saw the team leading shots 12-6 and corsi 24-14. A very un-Calgary period.
The second began with some more of that back-and-forth action the teams began the first period with. The game started to feel like it could break the record for fastest NHL game played ever, if there ever was such a record.
Once again, it took half the period for something important to happen. The Flames were assessed a too many men call; questionable at best, and the call was only made only after a few seconds had passed from the initial whistle for a frozen puck. Bob Hartley was not happy.
The Avs powerplay carved up the Flames penalty killers, and they kept the puck in the zone for the entire time. Alex Tanguay crept up to the goal line and took a weak, bouncing shot that trickled in past Karri Ramo. The Flames allowed their one guaranteed weak goal per game, and the Avs lead 1-0.
The Flames looked to respond again, and tried to get something going in the offensive end. A corner battle saw Josh Jooris being body checked by a ref (they’re out to get us!) and Nate Guenin took the puck and led the rush. He passed to Tanguay, who passed to a wide open Ryan O’Reilly, who easily charged the net and scored. 2-0 Colorado.
The Avalanche, playing with complete momentum, then took over for the rest of the period. Whether they were taking advantage of the Flames’ fatigue, or just purely outworking them, Calgary was treading on dangerous waters. Dennis Everberg nearly put the game away for good, if only his shot didn’t hit the post.
Nate Guenin took a late holding call against David Jones, and the Flames could try and swing it back in their favour. Once again the powerplay was awful, only generating one shot and spending more time outside of the zone than in it. You could feel the frustration from the team.
The Flames barely escaped the period with a 2-0 deficit, standard fare for the team. Colorado beat them in shots 11-7 and in corsi 25-13. It looked bad, but the Flames had them exactly where they wanted them.
The deadly Calgary Third Periods took the ice to begin the final frame, looking to do what they had done 10 previous times this season. It didn’t start so well. Dennis Everberg got caught stranded on the ice while his teammates completed a change. Facing a one-on-four, he tried his luck, and turned it into a breakaway. Karri Ramo denied him, and then stuffed Matt Duchene on another excellent chance.
The Flames woke up after that, collecting the puck behind the net and heading out for a rush. Former Av David Jones gained the zone and dished it off to Mikael Backlund. The pivot battled Jan Hejda for control of the puck, but Mickis won out and backhand dished it to David Jones, who scored with his skate. The refs looked to see if it was a "distinct kicking motion," but the goal stood. 2-1 Avalanche.
You simply can’t stop the Calgary Third Periods! Well, unless you score 28 seconds later. #7 John Mitchell was battling it out with #7 TJ Brodie. The defenceman mirrored Mitchell while he was in the zone, but Brodie bit on one of Mitchell’s moves, and the winger sniped one past Karri Ramo. Comeback off, 3-1 Colorado.
The Flames’ third period hopes were crushed again, or so Colorado thought. Only 90 seconds later, the wonderful Mikael Backlund forced a turnover at centre, and immediately got the rush going. He passed it to David Jones who then immediately passed it right to Lance Bouma. The top-six forward then unleashed a hell of a slapshot, and the Flames were back in the game. 3-2 Colorado.
The game slowed down for a little bit, as both teams tried to re-catch their breath. Nothing much happened until Jan Hejda got caught up with David Jones behind the Colorado net. Jones flew hard into the boards, and went back to the dressing room. He didn’t return to the game, but the Flames were back on the powerplay.
Playing with that third period energy, the Flames actually did a good job on this powerplay. They forced Varlamov to make highlight reel saves, and kept the puck in the zone for the majority of the two minutes. The Flames racked up three shots, but didn’t score.
It was now getting to the final minutes of the game, and it was now or never for the comeback Flames. Ramo left the net, and the Flames went on the offensive. Colorado looked like they were about to break, but were bailed out once again by Varlamov. The clock expired, and the comeback was no more. Calgary won the shots battle 12-9, and the corsi battle 27-15. They finished the game with 31 shots compared to Colorado’s 26, and led corsi as well 64-54, but Colorado won 3-2. It was the anti-Flames night.
- Not much good to say about the Flames, besides the fact that the first and third periods were actually both really good tonight.
- Mikael Backlund is all sorts of excellence. You could argue that his two assists tonight were the most important aspects of the goal scoring plays tonight. He is still riding an eight game point streak, by the way.
- The fourth line wasn’t actually terrible. For the first period, they were the ones driving play, and not anyone else. This was mostly Matt Stajan’s doing. Please get him some actual wingers (not to say Drew Shore played poorly, it was mostly Bollig’s fault).
- Special teams were atrocious. You can argue that they lost the game tonight for the Flames.
- Why is this team doomed to allow at least one weak goal per game? It must be the bad luck evening out, right?
- First pairing defenceman Deryk Engelland only got four shifts in the third, compared to Rafael Diaz’s ten. Bob Hartley should just save himself the hassle and pair up Brodie and Diaz. Please.
- Why does Alex Tanguay get to be good against us? And Ryan O’Reilly? Are they just taunting us? David Jones did score against his former team, but true to form, he also injured himself.
- I hate to sound whiny, but the refs were definitely against the Flames tonight. There were a lot of 50/50 offside calls going against Calgary, and the Avs had some icings waived off.
- Semyon Varlamov still doesn’t belong in the NHL.
The Flames’ comeback mojo was taken by Nashville tonight, as they scored a key victory over the Kings after potting two third period goals in 66 seconds. A win by the Kings tonight would’ve kept them tied with Calgary for third in the Pacific. Thank you, Smashville!
Otherwise, the scoreboard was pretty bad for Calgary. Winnipeg beat Tampa 2-1, the eternally useless Maple Leafs lost to Vancouver 4-1, and Minnesota beat St. Louis 3-1 ensuring everything was status quo in the West. The Sharks continue their free fall, losing to the Blackhawks 6-2. It’s too late to get into the McDavid race, fyi.
The Flames are back in action on Tuesday, when they get a visit from the St. Louis Blues. Puck drop is at 9, we hope that you join us!