The Calgary Flames were superb on Sunday in Dallas. They seemed a bit out of gas on Monday afternoon in Minnesota. The Flames were decent, but the Wild were better when it mattered, and beat the Flames 3-0 to close out the pre-Christmas schedule for both clubs.
Neither team scored in the first period, though the Wild carried play and the Flames seemed to be a step off – missing their passes by about a foot when trying to break into the offensive zone. Shots were 10-7 Wild and scoring chances 5-3 Wild.
Minnesota scored a pair in the second period to swing the game, and both were in situations where the Flames couldn’t maintain their defensive zone coverage.
First, Joel Eriksson Ek slipped away from Elias Lindholm, went to the slot and tapped in a pass from below goal line from Kevin Fiala. That made it 1-0 Wild.
Later on, Luke Kunin beat Michael Stone in a race to the slot and tapped in a pass from below goal line from Jordan Greenway. That made it 2-0 Wild.
Shots were 15-8 Wild and scoring chances 13-11 Wild in the second.
That was basically the game. The Wild defended well and did their best to kill the clock in the third period. Derek Ryan beat Devan Dubnyk late in the second, but the goal was called back because he kicked it in. Eric Staal added an empty netter to end this one at 3-0 for the Wild.
Shots were 9-7 Wild and scoring chances 6-5 Flames in the third.
Why the Flames Lost
They just didn’t seem to have a ton of gas left in the tank. In was their second game in less than 24 hours, and it showed. They were a bit out of sync and their play was a little bit off for basically the whole game.
In a game where nobody scored for Calgary, Tobias Rieder was perfectly acceptable as a fourth line center, plus he was among the team leaders in scoring chances and high danger chances.
The Turning Point
If the Flames make it to the second intermission down by one goal, maybe they have a puncher’s chance of blooping a goal past Dubnyk and grinding out a point (or getting a second one in overtime). But the way this game was going, a 2-0 deficit after 40 minutes might as well have been 10-0.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and That
Geoff Ward shuffled the lines up in the third period:
- Rieder – Lindholm – Tkachuk
- Bennett – Monahan – Gaudreau
- Lucic – Ryan – Mangiapane
- Rinaldo – Backlund – Dube
The Flames (19-15-5) are headed home for the holidays. They’re back in action on Friday when they visit the Edmonton Oilers.