After all the build up coming into this game and Evander Kane’s lips doing most of the work off the ice, he let his stick do the talking Thursday night. The Flames newest enemy scored twice, had an assist, had eight SOG and lead the Sharks in hits with three as San Jose climbed within 2 points of the Flames in the Pacific Division with a 5-2 victory.
Calgary jumped ahead early with a first period goal by Mark Jankowski and it looked like the Flames were going to have another dynamic offensive output against the Sharks, but San Jose had other ideas. San Jose would respond by scoring three straight goals in the first in 1:25 and they in effect put the Flames away. Evander Kane and Brent Burns would score :57 apart and David Rittch’s night was over. The Flames #1 keeper would surrender two goals on six shots in 13:42 of play. Mike Smith would finish off the period and he would fare no better. The first shot that Smith would see would find the back of the net and San Jose had a commanding 3-1 lead.
The second period would see the Flames push back by dominating the first eight minutes of the period, but they would get nothing for their efforts. Martin Jones was outstanding in net for San Jose as he stopped 13 of the 14 shots that came his way in the second period. Calgary would get their final goal of the contest on the PP with just under two minutes left in the period. T.J. Brodie would fire one at the San Jose net that would find the back of the net, his 7th of the season, and the Flames looked like they had some life.
Where the Flames had life and energy heading into the third, Martin Jones took that momentum and left Calgary shaking their heads. Jones was once again the story of the period as he stopped all 12 Flames shots in the period and Calgary just couldn’t get any luck. Jones was bailed out by his defence at times due to him being out of position, but the Flames didn’t help themselves either. Calgary’s best chance of the period came off an Elias Lindholm’s stick. Lindholm would fire a shot at Jones that he would save, but he kicked the rebound right onto the stick of Johnny Gaudreau who got hardly any stick on the puck and Jones gobbled up a puck that could have swung momentum in the other direction.
1st: 4:36- Jankowski (9) (Giordano/Brodie)
2nd: 17:42- (PPG) Brodie (7) (Ryan/Neal)
1st: 12:39- Kane (22) (Thornton/Burns), 13:42- (SHG) Burns (11) (Unassisted), 14:04- Hertl (23) (Simek/Donskoi)
2nd: 16:27- Kane (23) (Donskoi/Hertl)
3rd: 18:37- (PPG) Herlt (24) (Kane/Burns)
Some nights it’s your night, some it’s not and tonight it wasn’t Calgary’s night. The Sharks took all the drama from their last meeting and put it to good use. Evander Kane was an absolute thorn in the Flames side all night and even though he took an incredibly stupid penalty near the end, he took it to Calgary all night long.
The biggest issue for the Flames tonight was that their top two lines were non-existent early on in the game. When San Jose had a 3-1 lead Calgary was being lead by their bottom six. James Neal, Mark Jankowski, Garnet Hathaway and Derek Ryan were the Flames best players in the first and no offense to them, but you are going to have a hard time climbing back into a game when those are your best players on the ice. The Flames special teams didn’t help either as they gave up a short handed goal and went 1-7 on the PP.
David Rittich had an uncharacteristically bad night in goal and got the gate early on. Rittich never looked comfortable in net and his night was over before it began. His puck handling skills are hit or miss and tonight it was a miss. His mishandling of a puck in the first period lead directly to San Jose’s second goal of the night. Mike Smith was solid in relief tonight after giving up a goal on his first shot and he held the Flames together as they were attempting to claw their way back into this contest. He stopped 21 of the 24 shots that came his way on the night.
Flame Of The Game
James Neal (F). Neal wasn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination tonight, but he had some jump in his game for the first time in who knows how long and he collected an assist on Jankowski’s goal. He was strong with the puck on his stick and did some of the dirty work in the corners. But it says a lot when that’s what we are looking for out of Neal and how this game went as a whole.
2/9: Calgary Flames @ Vancouver Canucks, 8 PM MT