1st Period: Canadiens 1 Flames 0
Less than one minute into the game, you could probably tell how the game was going to go. It was a tight-checking, fast paced period which was characterized by chances on each end. The first stanza began in an interesting fashion. The Flames came out rolling to say the least, with T.J Brodie ringing one off the post. Following that play, Max Pacioretty would deke past the Flames defence and sneak one past Smith, only to discover on a Glen Gulutzan-initiated review that he was offside. Nevertheless, the two teams traded chances but 10:45 into the first, Byron Froese would tip a Jordie Benn shot past Mike Smith to make it 1-0 for the Habs. Calgary would continue to push but to no avail.
First Period Stats
2nd Period: Canadiens 2 Flames 0
If the Flames wanted to come out strong this period, they would not like the way they came out in the second. It was all Habs in this one, as they played a speedy, two-way game that essentially put a stop to almost every good Flames chance. Calgary simply looked flat, slow and a little too eager for the holidays to come through. For the second half of the season, they will really look toward improving their second period play. They would get a few chances, but ultimately, it would be the Montreal Canadiens that would grind away and capitalize on the chances they got. With just about 12 minutes left in the second, Nicolas Deslauriers showed some neat handiwork as he batted in a rebound past Mike Smith to make it 2-0 for the Canadiens. The Flames would not be able to rejuvenate after and would continue to play cautious and somewhat sloppy hockey. Mike Smith would make an absolutely phenomenal save off of a Brendan Gallagher breakaway to keep the two goal lead and close. Overall, it was sloppy hockey from the Calgary Flames, but anyone who watched the second would also have to give credit to the Canadiens for playing a strong, consistent road game.
Second Period Stats
3rd Period: Canadiens 3 Flames 2
The third essentially started off as a mirror image of the first and second periods. More sloppy hockey from the home team and a continuation of a strong road game by the Canadiens. After Brendan Gallagher potted in his own rebound past Smith, you would have thought the game was over. The hosts were trailing 3-0 against a team playing a strong defensive game, but with NHL hockey, you can never really jump to conclusions. 9:42 into the third, Micheal Ferland tapped in a soft rebound for his 14th of the year. That cut the lead to 3-1.
It was after the Ferland tally that the Flames started to show real signs of life in the game. They started to play with a faster pace, passes were crisp and they began to take momentum away from the Montreal Canadiens. The two teams however would trade chances until a Paul Byron penalty put the Flames back on the powerplay. With the goalie pulled and with 1:53 left in the third period, Matthew Tkachuk rifled home a pass from Mikael Backlund to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Flames would continue to get great chances in the remaining time of the third but were unable to get the all important tying goal. All in all, the game could be summarized as ‘too little, too late.’
Third Period Stats
Flame of the Game
Despite some great saves made by Mike Smith, I have to go with Sam Bennett on this one. #93 was by far the most consistent, hard working Flame. He generated numerous chances and was very noticeable throughout the game. This should be the type of game we should be expecting of Bennett and hopefully he can continue his upward trend and truly live up to his potential.
Next Up: The Flames pay a visit to the SAP Center to take on the San Jose Sharks on December 28th at 8:30 pm/MT. You can catch it on Sportsnet West!