As is what seems to be the usual theme for the Calgary Flames as of late, they once again outshot their opponent, but could not capitalize on those opportunities. The Nashville Predators came to town for a Saturday Night matchup at the Saddledome. The Predators have been consistently a top team this year in the Western Conference and a win by the Flames tonight would have been very important for momentum, especially with a quick turn around to Vancouver tomorrow evening.
Jaromir Jagr was a welcome return into the lineup and the first few minutes saw the Flames playing decent defence and taking the puck away from Nashville. The Flames did a good job of getting shots on goals, but no pucks found their way in the back of the net. The penalty kill was able to kill off a slashing penalty by Sam Bennett half way through the period, which may be the highlight of the period.
The powerplay had a chance to break out of the rut in the last three minutes of period 1, but it ended up as a weak opportunity on the man advantage with the Flames only getting two shots on goal. We’ll talk more about the powerplay later.
The Flames had another opportunity right off the bat on the powerplay. For a team that’s been very up and down on special teams this year, tonight’s game was a perfect example of the Flames losing too many great opportunities.
The best opportunity came eleven minutes into the period when Nashville’s Austin Watson put a hit on Garnet Hathaway in a very blindsided way. Troy Brouwer went after Watson and dropped the gloves. At the end of the scrap, Watson was given a five minute major for interference, a five minute major for fighting, and on top of that a game misconduct. Troy Brouwer was given a five minute major for fighting, a two minute minor for instigating, and a ten minute misconduct.
The teams resumed play four on four, and right away Nashville opened the scoring with Ryan Johansen netting his fourth of the year past Mike Smith, who was playing in his 500th NHL game.
The Flames were given a bright spot on the powerplay with a long 5 on 3 with 8:03 to go in the second period, but were once again not able to capitalize. Mark Giordano post game said of the opportunities tonight, "We got to score. I mean, 5 on 3 for that long it starts with the guy who are out there, myself and the guys who are out there we got to find a way to, you know, put one in the net."
Kevin Fiala scored towards the end of the second and Nashville took a 2-0 lead at the end of two periods.
There’s really not too much to talk about in the third period. All the scoring was in the second, and the best opportunities for the Flames to score were the beginning of the first period, and during a two minute 5 on 3. The Flames went 0-5 on the powerplay tonight, and are now 0 for their last 19. Special teams needs to improve. Getting a two minute 5 on 3 penalty while rare, is still a great opportunity and the Flames just could not get it down. Pekka Rinne was named first star of the game and earned another shutout. Overall, a pretty rough game for the team.
Flame of the Game
Tonight I’m going to give this honor to Travis Harmonic for something he did off the ice before the game. Travis hosted three members of a community from Nunavut for the first part of his “Northern Project”. This project according to the Flames Foundation website allows “an initiative that will provide Indigenous children from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon the opportunity to visit Calgary for the weekend on an all-expenses paid trip courtesy of Travis and his wife Stephanie.” You can read more about that here: http://calgaryflamesfoundation.com/2017/12/15/hamonic-launches-northern-project-indigenous-youth/.
On a night that was rough on the ice for the Flames, it was a great night off the ice for the Flames Foundation, who continues to support the local communities.
The Flames are right back at it tomorrow night in Vancouver!