Just two days after one of their best performances of the season, the Calgary Flames couldn’t replicate the effort. They were caught behind the eight-ball early and often, dropping a 5-2 home loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks to begin a three game home stand.
The Flames were sloppy early on and the Canucks made them pay: repeatedly. First, the Canucks were put on the man advantage via a Michael Frolik offensive zone penalty. On the ensuing power play, Tyler Myers’ wrist shot beat David Rittich top corner (after TJ Brodie wandered past Rittich just before the shot). That made it 1-0 Canucks.
A few minutes later, Rittich gave up one he probably wants back. Myers unleashed a wrist shot with zero traffic, screens or tips. It beat Rittich five-hole to make it 2-0 Canucks.
With Matthew Tkachuk in the box for a neutral zone interference penalty, Jake Virtanen tapped a Myers feed past Rittich to make it 3-0 Canucks. That spelled the end of Rittich’s night, as Cam Talbot came into the game in relief.
Shots were 11-9 Canucks and scoring chances 8-7 Flames in the opening period.
The Flames didn’t execute particularly well in the second period – missing the net on a four-on-one rush was a highlight – but the Canucks seemed content just to hang out and kill the clock. The Canucks generated three power plays, including a 59-second two man advantage, but the Flames killed the penalties off fairly well.
The home side finally got on the board late in the second period during a stretch of four-on-four. Sean Monahan’s shot was booted out by Thatcher Demko, but Rasmus Andersson jumped on the rebound and tucked it into the open net to cut the Canucks lead to 3-1.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 30, 2019
Shots were 9-8 Flames and scoring chances 6-2 Flames in the second period.
But the Flames couldn’t complete the push. Tanner Pearson beat Talbot with a wrist shot to increase Vancouver’s edge to 4-1 midway through the third period. Noah Hanifin buried a rebound off a scrambly down-low play – with Demko looking for the loose puck in his crease when it was, y’know, at the point. That cut the lead to 4-2, but that’s as close as the Flames managed to get.
Pearson added an empty netter to cement the final score at 5-2 for Vancouver.
Why the Flames Lost
There were three primary culprits:
- The team’s transition game was pretty sloppy in the first period, with passes frequently missing their mark or being disrupted in the neutral zone.
- The team’s defensive zone play was pretty rough, with several lost 50/50 battles for pucks leading to Canucks scoring chances.
- The penalty kill wasn’t nearly good enough in the first period.
Monahan led the team in shots and set up the team’s first goal, so he gets our adulation for this evening.
And playing in a game where the Flames obviously weren’t feeling it, Talbot was perfectly acceptable in net and did his best to give the Flames a chance to claw back into it. They didn’t do that, but you’ve gotta appreciate the effort.
The Turning Point
The Flames never seemed to have a chance in this one, but the third Canucks goal in the third period – the one that chased Rittich – was a back-breaker. Heading into the intermission down by three isn’t great for a team’s psyche.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and That
Look who’s in the house tonight. #34 Miikka Kiprusoff hanging out at the Saddledome.
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) December 30, 2019
The Flames (20-16-5) practice tomorrow. They’re back in action on New Year’s Eve when they close out 2019 with a game against the Chicago Blackhawks.