The Calgary Flames have been a slow-starting team, on occasion. Sometimes, as head coach Bill Peters phrases it, they don’t start on time. On Tuesday evening against the Los Angeles Kings, they were really flat early and chased for the duration. They lost 4-3 to the Kings in overtime in a game where the score somehow flattered both teams.
The opening 20 minutes was, in several ways, one of the worst periods of hockey the Flames have played in years. The Kings opened the scoring off a few defensive lapses by the home side. After winning a defensive zone draw the Flames couldn’t clear the zone, leading to a Drew Doughty point shot. David Rittich made the initial save, but chaos ensued out front and Tyler Toffoli buried the loose puck (through a crowd) to make it 1-0 Kings.
Later in the period, the Flames (again) couldn’t clear the zone and it allowed the Kings to get some zone time and then score a weird one. Sean Walker was skating near the far corner of the Flames zone and hucked the puck on net. It blooped through Rittich’s padding and into the net to make it 2-0 Kings.
The Flames went approximately 17:21 between shots. In-between, the Kings scored twice. Shots were 2-0 Kings in the second, scoring chances 17-5 Kings. The Flames registered shots at at 2:00, 19:21 and 19:26. That’s it.
The locals didn’t completely turn it around in the second period, but they showed signs of life. But first they spotted the Kings another goal. After another unsuccessful power play – though this time they registered a shot – Ilya Kovalchuk made a head’s up play and redirected a bouncing blocked shot out of mid-air past Rittich to make it 3-0 Kings.
But the Flames got one back a little while later. Matthew Tkachuk snagged an attempted clearing pass from the Kings, settled it down and beat Jack Campbell with a wrister to cut the lead to 3-1 Kings.
Ketchup adds a little bit of mustard to his shot, injects some life into this game pic.twitter.com/NoF7mZmxU3
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) October 9, 2019
A little bit later, the Flames got a little bit closer. Noah Hanifin jumped into the rush and chipped the puck on net. Campbell knocked the puck down, but Mikael Backlund crashed the net and the puck blooped past Campbell. It was originally credited to Backlund, but eventually given to Hanifin.
Backlund: a good dad who takes cleans up the garbage pic.twitter.com/SK8C1IixXW
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) October 9, 2019
Shots were 12-10 Flames in the second, while scoring chances were 12-9 Flames.
The Flames pressed in the third period and had some looks, but they couldn’t pull the trigger when they had the puck in the high rent district. But they finally broke through with 64 seconds left in regulation, as Rasmus Andersson’s initial shot was stopped but Tkachuk drove the net and knocked the rebound in out of mid-air to tie the game at 3-3.
Shots were 14-8 Flames and chances were 8-3 Flames in the third.
Drew Doughty scored a power play goal in overtime off a one-timer – with Sam Bennett in the box for a late penalty – to give the visitors a 4-3 victory.
Why the Flames Lost
Let’s be blunt here: you can’t have a first period like the Flames had and expect to win games (or even get a point). They were out-shot, out-hustled, out-worked and out-battled in basically every area of the ice.
Mikael Backlund just now on #Flames radio – "That might have been the worst period of hockey we've ever played in this building."
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) October 9, 2019
Beyond putting themselves significantly behind the eight-ball, they also didn’t do anything of note with their special teams. Their first power play was actually out-shot by the Kings, while their second mustered just a single puck on net. In general, their execution with the puck (and puck management overall) was pretty lousy until late in the game when the Kings were trying to run out the clock.
That the Flames managed to get a point is borderline criminal.
Tkachuk was in the proverbial bee in the Kings’ bonnet for most of the game. He had two goals and an assist and drew a penalty, and generally was his usual self.
Rittich was busy and pretty sharp, and three of the four goals he allowed you could argue he didn’t really have much of a chance on. (That second goal was a bit of a cringer, though.)
The Turning Point
This was basically two games: the Flames were horrendous in the first half, spotting the Kings a three goal lead. And then they were slightly better than the Kings in the second half, clawing back. Tkachuk’s goal to force extra time was both wildly improbable and somehow inevitable given the way this game was going.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and That
The locals heartily booed Drew Doughty basically every time he touched the puck.
Milan Lucic fought Kurtis MacDermid midway through the second period after MacDermid collided with him in the neutral zone. It was a fight.
The Flames practice tomorrow, then head off to scenic Dallas, Texas. They visit the Stars on Thursday night.