The Flames made their only visit of the season to Buffalo tonight as they took on the Sabres. These two teams met earlier in the season with the Flames taking a 4-3 overtime victory at the Saddledome. Calgary enters coming off a win over the Red Wings last night, and are trying to win for the fourth time in five games. The Sabres snapped a losing streak against the Penguins off the back of a 46 save performance from Anders Nilsson.
Jyrki Jokipakka was a last minute addition in place of Brett Kulak and Brian Elliott got his first start in five games as he aimed to turn around his season. The Sabres haven’t scored more than two goals in a game since October 30th, so the opportunity is there. Not to mention, he’s 11-0-2 in his career against Buffalo.
Mikael Backlund would give Calgary a 1-0 lead early on after the Flames transitioned following a great defensive play by Dougie Hamilton. The Flames would carry the puck up on a 3 on 1, where Michael Frolik found Backlund across the crease who put it in. Flames up early in the first. Matthew Tkachuk would be given an assist later in the game on the goal.
TJ Brodie would be whistled for tripping shortly after the goal, giving Buffalo the first powerplay of the game. The Flames would get a solid kill and get back to 5 on 5.
Brian Elliott had a very strong opening period making some difficult saves on good Sabres scoring chances. The most dangerous chance was a 2 on 1 where Elliott was able to slide across and make the save on a one timer.
The opening period ends with the Flames up on Buffalo 1-0 despite being outshot 13-9.
Tkachuk would be whistled for a check to head penalty early in the second on a questionable call, sending the Sabres to their second powerplay of the game. The Flames would get another strong kill with Elliott making a few big saves late to help get the team back to even strength.
Hunter Shinkaruk and Johan Larsson would take matching roughing penalties leading to some 4 on 4 action halfway through the period. Calgary would then be whistled for two penalties at the same time with Troy Brouwer and Dougie Hamilton taking separate infractions. This gives the Sabres a 4 on 3 for about 40 seconds before the Sabres would get their man back and go 5 on 3.
The Sabres would tie the game during the 5 on 3 after Matt Stajan lost his stick giving Buffalo a 5 on 2 close in. Kyle Okposo would get the puck over Elliott’s glove from the slot.
Buffalo would then take the lead on the 5 on 4 portion of the powerplay when Larsson deflected a Kane shot through Elliott’s five hole. 2-1 Sabres in a span of 37 seconds.
Calgary would be given ANOTHER PENALTY when Troy Brouwer took down Girgensons. Make that 5 powerplays to 0 for Buffalo.
Matt Moulson would score on this powerplay too 12 seconds in and it’s now 3-1 Sabres. 3 powerplay goals in 1:41 for Buffalo.
Calgary would get another penalty seconds later when Freddie Hamilton was whistled for an offensive zone interference penalty. 6-0 ON POWERPLAYS. But this time the Flames would kill it off, much to the chagrin of the officials.
Calgary would actually be given a powerplay when the Sabres were penalized in a scrum. The Sabres would then be called for another penalty during the advantage to give Calgary a 5 on 3 for about half a minute.
The Flames would be unable to score with part of the second powerplay carrying to the third period. The score sits at 3-1 Buffalo and the shots 26-17 for the Sabres.
The Flames would get back into the game as the powerplay expired when Tkachuk deflected a shot in front past Lehner to make it 3-2. Hamilton and Giordano with assists.
The Sabres would get the two goal lead right back when Marcus Foligno slid a puck in past Elliott who was sprawled on the ice. 4-2 Sabres 2:13 into the third.
The Flames would generate chances for the duration of the period but no goals were scored and the goalie would be pulled with under a minute and a half to go in the period.
Calgary wouldn’t be able to capitalize with the empty net and the Sabres take a 4-2 victory. Final shots for the game finish 32-31 for Buffalo.
- Let’s just list the players who played well: Tkachuk, Frolik, Backlund, Gio, Brodie, Hamilton. That is all.
- Lack of fight tonight: The Flames strayed away from the gritty forechecking and tough mentality that they’d used so well in the four previous games
- The team just looked tired with their 5th game in 7 days and it doesn’t get any easier
- The Penalty Kill absolutely fell apart in the second period after it finally had started looking like it was turning around.
- Brian Elliott is shelled yet again and drops his record to 0-5 in November. I don’t expect we’ll see much of him for a long while. What’s most concerning to me is that he’s starting to look emotionless after goals go in, kind of like Hiller last year.
- The balance of penalties. A couple of those second period calls definitely were the right call but I also think a couple were questionable along the way. Powerplays finish at 6-2 for Buffalo
The Flames fall back to 4 games below .500 at 8-12-1 and now must head out to take on the Blue Jackets. Columbus is in the midst of their best start in franchise history including a home record of 7-2-1. We’ll need all the help we can get.