Game two of the New York metropolitan area road trip brought the Flames to historic Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, for a Friday night tilt against the Rangers. The Rangers have been on a streak of four losses, while the Flames come in winning each of their last three. As they say in hockey, let’s do that hockey!
In a bit of a surprise, Ondrej Pavelec, not King Henrik skated out as the starting goalie for the Rangers. Mike Smith, confirmed earlier in the morning was the starter for the Flames.
An early giveaway by Mikael Backlund led to an early chance for the Rangers, but the shot missed wide and Flames fans could sit back down in their seats and relax. Less than two minutes later however a hi-sticking call against Dougie Hamilton would put the Rangers on the powerplay with a chance to open up the scoring again early and set the pace.
Mike Smith however looked great and some blocked shots by Frolik allowed the Flames to kill off the powerplay.
The Flames luck on the penalty kill would run out when Micheal Ferland would be called for goalie interference around 6:30 minutes in sending the Flames on the kill again. This time, Kevin Hayes on his fourth shot attempt in a row would finally net his 12th of the year past Mike Smith to give the Rangers the early 1-0 advantage.
The teams traded both chances and hits and as the period came to a close it appeared it would be a 1-0 lead for the Rangers, but that changed when Brett Kulak got the puck past Pavelec for his first ever NHL goal! A beautiful slap shot would seal a 1-1 tie going into intermission.
The second period opened with the Flames having the opportunity to start on the powerplay and a new goalie for the Rangers, as Henrik Lundqvist would come in for the newly injured Ondrej Pavelec. A too many men on the ice call would put the Flames a man up, but as Pavelec did earlier in the first period, Henrik Lundqvist turned all shots aside.
The rest of the period remained uneventful until Michael Grabner netted his 22nd of the year to break the stalemate and give the Rangers the lead again.
Less than a minute later Curtis Lazar would tie the game back up at 2 with his first goal of the season and the Flames and Rangers found themselves deadlocked again.
With just about 3 minutes to go in the period, a tripping call against the Rangers would lead to the Flames going on the powerplay again in the period. After four good shot chances it was Matthew Tkachuk who would put the puck in the back of the net and put the Flames in the lead for the first time all night and a 3-2 advantage into the 2nd intermission.
A relatively quiet beginning to the final stanza led many fans hoping that the Flames defense would hold the fort down and come away with a fourth straight victory. Unfortunately Rick Nash, who’s been in the news as of late about a possible trade, ended the scoring drought and tied the game 3-3 with his 17th of the year.
The pace of the game seemed to waiver back and forth between both sides all night, and it was going to be up to one team to seal the deal in the 3rd period and capitalize on an error.
The Rangers ended up getting that opportunity as a Sam Bennett holding call in the offensive zone no less put them on the powerplay, and allowed Mika Zibanejad to net his 16th of the year.
Another rough penalty by Bennett to take, and a costly one as it sealed a 4-3 victory for the Rangers. New York snaps a four game losing streak, and Calgary’s three game win streak is now over.
Through browsing social media at the end of the game, the general takeaways are that Mike Smith played another solid game in net despite giving up four goals, and Sam Bennett taking another bad penalty towards the end of a game is costing the Flames chances to score and win.
There were a couple bright moments however, as the game featured Brett Kulak’s 1st NHL goal, Ryan Lomberg’s 1st NHL point, and Curtis Lazar’s 1st goal of the season. The young guys continue to play well, and that’s something as a fan we like to see.
Flame of the Game
Congratulations to Brett Kulak on scoring his first career NHL goal. The 2012 former 4th round pick seems to be getting more and more comfortable in a Flames sweater, and I like what he brings to the lineup. Look for him to have a strong end of the season and pave his way into an even better player come next season.
Sunday the Flames head to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for an evening tilt with the New York Islanders.