The first period was lacklustre, proving why these teams aren't at the top of the standings this season. But with the lines being shuffled as much as they have been this game, it's understandable that the Flames would need time to gel. The Flames first shot on net didn't happen until the last five minutes of the period. The most action we saw was at the end of the period when there was a little pushing and shoving after a scoreless 20 minutes.
The second period was much more interesting. The Flames put pressure on the Sabres net right away, generating more shots in the first 5 minutes of the period than in the first 15 minutes of the first period. That pressure paid off as Mikael Backlund notched the Flames first goal, giving Garnet Hathaway his first NHL assist and point. Later in the period, after Hiller saved a couple of shots, he let one slip through and the game was tied 1-1. Sean Monahan really stepped up his leadership game tonight after being put on a line with Joe Colborne and Micheal Ferland. He played harder and made more of an impact throughout the night. The Flames powerplay was true to form tonight, which was evident during a Sabres short-handed goal allowing them to take the lead 2-1. But Dougie Hamilton wasn't having it and he laid down the law a few short seconds later with a top shelf goal to tie the game at 2-2. Monahan's one mistake of the night, a nasty turnover in the Flames end, cost them a goal and gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead heading into the final period.
I had high hopes for the third period after such an exciting second frame. But, again, it was not meant to be. With one last push from the Flames, Monahan scored, giving another assist to Hathaway and that would be all for the Flames. Colborne took an interference call, Hathaway took a hooking call, and Gio was handed a tripping call - all of which were questionable at best. This team is doomed when it comes to questionable penalties and it's never in their favour. The Sabres would go on to score 3 more goals, one being an empty-netter, that would finalize the score at 6-3 for the home team.
I think the pressure of losing is getting the best of this team and it's changing the mentality from last season. Gone are the last period wins and overtime excitement. In their place is third period breakdowns and bad reffing calls that lead to a lack of belief in themselves to get the job done. They need to understand that they are better than the bad calls against them and they need to come together as a team once again to fight for their wins.
Flame Of The Game
Garnet Hathaway. Not only did Hathaway notch his first two NHL points as a Calgary Flames player while being juggled around the lines, he brought a youthful energy that was exciting to watch. He played a physical game, not afraid of throwing his weight around, and he wouldn't back down from his opponents. Hathaway has been a ray of light among the disappointed faces on this team and I hope he sticks around for a long time.