On Sunday against Vancouver, the Calgary Flames weren’t great early and dug themselves a hole they couldn’t climb out of. It was deja vu all over again on New Year’s Eve, as the Flames spotted the Chicago Blackhawks three goals in the first period and couldn’t come all the way back en route to a 5-3 home loss.
The Flames looked rusty early on. Four minutes into the first period, Olli Maatta was able to walk in from the left point and uncork a wrist shot that beat David Rittich top corner to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
1:21 later, Chicago added to their lead on a power play. With Deerk Ryan in the box for holding, some nice Chicago passing ended up with Alex Debrincat tapping in a feed from Dylan Strome to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead.
The Blackhawks made it 3-0 midway through the period after Patrick Kane was allowed to wander in and put a wrist shot through some traffic (and past Rittich).
The best Flames chance in the opening period was a Derek Ryan set-up for Johnny Gaudreau that Robin Lehner made a diving save on. Shots were 14-10 Blackhawks and scoring chances 14-7 Blackhawks in the opening frame.
The Blackhawks added to their lead midway through the second period. During a stretch of four-on-four play Travis Hamonic had a scoring chance stopped by Lehner. The Blackhawks went the other way and Strome was able to unleash a wrist shot from the top of the circles that beat Rittich high to make it 4-0 Chicago.
Sam Bennett managed to break the Lehner shutout bid at the tail end of the second period, tapping in a Ryan pass with six seconds let to cut the lead to 4-1.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) January 1, 2020
Shots were 16-10 Flames and scoring chances 11-5 Flames in the second.
The Blackhawks played a structured, composed final 20 minutes and managed to run down the clock for the most part. Michael Frolik added a short-handed goal late to cut the Blackhawks’ advantage to 4-2.
With the goalie pulled, the Flames managed to cash in again. Matthew Tkachuk had a couple whacks at a loose puck, but Sean Monahan snuck in and batted in the rebound to cut the Blackhawks lead to 4-3.
But that’s as close as they got. Kane added an empty-netter to ice this one at 5-3 Blackhawks.
Shots were 18-9 Flames and scoring chances 8-7 Blackhawks in the third period.
Why the Flames Lost
Well, they were incredibly sloppy early on. The Flames were out-chanced and out-played by a pretty large margin early on. While they did get their legs under them midway through this one, it was too little, too late.
He didn’t hit the scoresheet, but Mark Giordano was noticeable all over the ice in all three periods for positive reasons.
The Turning Point
Kane’s goal was a back-breaker. Going into the first intermission down by a field goal is a tough hill to climb, especially if you’re doing it for the second consecutive outing.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and That
This was the seventh consecutive season that the Flames have played on New Year’s Eve. They’re 4-3-0 in that span.
The Flames (20-17-5) practice tomorrow. They’re back in action on Thursday night when they host the New York Rangers.