The more things change......Calgary fell to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center 3-1 Tuesday night. The Flames stood up to the Ducks, but a questionable 3rd period hit turned a wide open and fast hockey game into some frontier, beer league nonsense.
If you’re going to try an end a nightmarish streak, that’s certainly a good way to start, for the most part. Calgary dominated the period and came out with an edge and played fast. The oddity of the period was Chad Johnson going down, 5 minutes into the period. Johnson made a routine left pad save and then had trouble getting up. Johnson stayed down for a bit, skated off and Brian Elliott took over. Shortly after T.J. Brodie sprung Johnny Gaudreau on a breakaway, but John Gibson came up with one of many high quality saves to keep the Flames off the scoreboard. Michael Frolik had the Flames next best chance as he hit the crossbar on a wicked wrister as he came streaking down the right side. The Flames would finally get to Gibson as Mikael Backlund would collect a rebound off a Mark Giordano shot and put it past Gibson to give the Flames a 1-0 lead. Anaheim, while down 1-0, should have been happy to only be down by a goal. John Gibson was the only reason this wasn’t an early blowout as he stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced. Each team had a PP opportunity, but came up empty.
Anaheim came out and forced the play on the Flames early in the 2nd. Anaheim and Calgary each had 9 shots on net, but the Ducks deposited two of those shots and finished the period with a 2-1 lead. Ryan Getzlaf took a back handed shot off a faceoff and a juicy rebound found it’s way to Patrick Eaves who did not miss and we were tied 1-1. Kevin Bieksa would get the go ahead goal by firing a shot at an impossible angle and beating Brian Elliott on a goal he clearly wanted back, giving Anaheim a 2-1 lead.
If you were looking for more wide open, exciting hockey, you weren’t getting it. Mark Giordano and Cam Fowler collided, with Gio’s knee connecting with Fowler’s knee, sending him out for the game. Shortly after Chris Wagner would score his 4th of the season and put the Ducks up 3-1. What would happen next would turn what was an entertaining game into a penalty filled, garbage fest of a 3rd period. Each team would trade trips to the penalty box for roughing, fighting, misconducts, cross checks, lions, tigers and bears...ugh. While it sets the table for a potential “exciting “playoff meeting, the 3rd period was goon hockey at it’s finest. Mark Giordano’s knee on knee hit got it started and the Ducks didn’t let it go. They kept goading the Flames and Calgary was all too happy to oblige. Mercifully this game ran out of time and Calgary’s futility in Anaheim continued.
Lost in this mess was what a good hockey game this was for a while. The game carried a playoff atmosphere, but at the same time it looked like a scene from Slapshot as well. The Flames are showing teams they won’t be pushed around and after your older brother beats on you for years, you’re bound to snap. Problem is Calgary is puffing their chest and not winning where it counts: on the scoreboard. Buckle up if this is a glimpse of a potential playoff match-up.
Flame Of The Game
I guess we’ll go with Mikael Backlund as he scored Calgary’s only goal.