It was Western Night at the Saddledome, so saddle up and dust off your kickers for a recap!
Nick Shore factored into the lineup as a game-time decision, and was set make his debut as a Flame since being acquired on Trade Deadline Day. He factored in with Glass and Stajan on the 4th line. Jon Gillies was back in net for the start, facing off against Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.
No less than 27 seconds in, the Rangers’ Brady Skej saw the gate for hooking. (Good start!) Two minutes with the extra man yielded nothing but a couple good looks (Iffy start.) And as fate would have it, things would swing back the other way two minutes later... (Bad start.)
The Flames worked the shot count up to 16 to try and fight back into things, but it started to look like one of those “greasy rebound goals to beat Lundqvist” nights. Then with 3:21 left in the first, it WAS one of those nights!
Young Brett Kulak notched his 2nd of the year, 2nd of his NHL career, and 2nd against the Rangers (He got his first of all those at MSG in their last meeting.) Assists to Frolik and Tkachuk on the tally to tie things at 1-1.
After grabbing that early lead, it looked like the Rangers would be pretty content to let Lundqvist protect that 1-0 score in this frame, even though he saw a ton of rubber . Getting things back to square before the end of the frame was key for the Flames. Shots were 19-9 Flames (Thirteen different Flames registered shots. Western Night shooting gallery! Pew pew!) , and hits were 8-6 Rangers after 20.
The King Henrik show carried into the start of the second...(Good start, better save.)
Which (stop me if you’ve heard this before) leads to a disaster on the other end, only 56 seconds into the freakin’ period (Bad start.)
The goal was reviewed, and the call on the ice stood. (Video evidence was iffy, but anything involving an NHL replay booth in 2017-2018 is iffy. Tough sledding for Gillies, who had seen only 9 shots to this point.)
NYR’s Skej sat again, for hooking again, at 1:27, but Lundqvist didn’t flinch at the Flames powerplay, stopping everything else that came his way. The PK was successful, and it looked like real trouble because that energized New York for a 2-on-1 moments later...
Seemed like Gillies was settling in, it’s hard to not get cold when you’re seeing minimal shots. But when the opposition makes the minimal shots count, it’s a different story...
Absolutely dreadful line change. (Western Night at the Lazy F Ranch. My full sympathies to Gillies at this point. A card and some flowers. Maybe a heart shaped box of chocolates. Yikes.)
Backlund got the gate at 12:01 for cross-checking, and fortunately NYR didn’t get anything out of it. (Hey sure, let’s see what they can do with actual offense chances, right?)
New York hit no less than three goal posts in the 2nd, which doesn’t bode well as a look for Gillies.
Hamonic and Kreider dropped the mitts to a draw with 20 seconds left, hopefully to try and spark something for the home side. With 3 seconds left, Dougie Hamilton sparked a penalty kill by taking a high sticking minor. (So much for that idea.)
12 shots for Calgary in the second, making it 31-19 Flames after 40, but 2 goals on 10 shots in the second made it 3-1 Rangers where it counts.
Calgary would kill off the Hamilton minor and at 2:13 Brady Skej would make his third trip to the bin, for a Flames PP that would get 3 shots but put the team up to 0-for-3 on the night. (The Flames were up to 42 SOG by the eight minute mark. Quality by quantity.)
With 6:00 left, another clear-cut Rangers breakaway (Buchnevich) beats Gillies but not the post, their fifth of the night. (If they’re gonna let the Rangers get away with stuff like this, everyone save your blood pressure and don’t look at the remaining schedule for this year.)
Gulutzan emptied the net for an extra man at 2:07, and took their timeout with 57.7 seconds left. Neither of those things were enough to get anything else past Lundqvist.
3-1 New York Rangers, FINAL SCORE.
The Burning Embers:
Looking at the numbers on the surface, this game was close everywhere except the scoreboard and shot clock. We’ve used the word “frustrating” a lot at M&G lately, but it’s been nothing short of accurate.
It’s another tough one, and one that the Flames needed to have in this final month’s drive. With two games each remaining against Vegas, San Jose, and Edmonton, plus singles against LA, Anaheim, Winnipeg and Pittsburgh sprinkled in, it’s absolutely key that they capitalize on the games that they should be able to capitalize on. If they don’t, the result is obvious.
Take the weekend off from the stress of Flames hockey, because that’s what the team’s is scheduled to do. Everyone be back Monday night at 7:00MST as the Flames hit the road to Pittsburgh for a showdown with the defending Stanley Cup Champions.