The Calgary Flames faced their toughest loss of the season so far to the Pittsburgh Penguins as they lost 9-1.
Oh boy. The Calgary Flames faced a big loss tonight to the Pittsburgh Penguins as they lost 9-1. It didn’t help that Mike Smith allowed six goals on 21 shots and had to be relieved by David Rittich. After the Flames played two bad games, despite the score, they didn’t actually play that horrible of a game… but please take that with a grain of salt.
There were a few changes to the lineup tonight. Travis Hamonic was activated from IR after missing eight games with a facial fracture. He made it into the lineup while Juuso Valimaki was a healthy scratch. Derek Ryan was also a healthy scratch as Austin Czarnik also made it back into the lineup after missing the last few games.
Since the 2015-16 season, the Flames were 5-0-1 against the Pens. So this one stung. Let’s check out how they got here.
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A good first shift by the Calgary Flames top line to start the game made the Penguins take a slashing penalty so the Flames got an early powerplay. Late in the powerplay, James Neal had a great chance and they had some quality chances late, but unfortunately, nothing found the back of the net.
A couple minutes later, Sidney Crosby went down with the puck and went backhand, top-shelf and got it over Mike Smith’s shoulder and into the net. 1-0 Penguins less than five minutes into the game.
About a minute later, the 3M line had a great shift, but some pucks went wide and were blocked, then finally Matt Murray saved a shot from Travis Hamonic.
The Flames top line had a great shift again slightly before the midway mark, but again, couldn’t capitalize.
The Noah Hanifin – Hamonic pairing looked good up until this point and to be fair, most of the Flames looked quite good, unlike the last two games.
Later in the period, the Flames took a penalty against a great powerplay team. Matthew Tkachuk also went down the tunnel holding around his throat/face area, so he looked to be in pain, but he returned a few minutes later.
The Flames did well on the penalty-kill in the first half, but a deflection right in front of Smith by Patric Hornqvist put the Penguins up 2-0.
This period ended 3-0 but the Flames still played a decent game. The Penguins pushed back later in the period, but for the most part, I liked what I saw compared to the last couple of games.
Early in the second period, the Penguins went down the ice and Phil Kessel shot it on goal, which Smith saved, but rebounded it right back to Kessel who then got his own rebound to make this game 4-0. Oh boy. That’s four goals on 16 shots and for some reason, Mike Smith stayed in net.
A couple of minutes later, the Calgary Flames third line had some great chances with a chance from Neal and another one from Sam Bennett, but both couldn’t get good shots.
About six minutes into the period, Dumoulin intercepted a pass and went on a two-on-one with Matt Cullen, shot it on Smith himself and it’s a 5-0 game. The Flames then went on the powerplay and while they had some decent chances, they couldn’t capitalize. As their powerplay expired and Kessel left the box, he found the puck, had a breakaway all alone and made it 6-0 Penguins. Bill Peters decided he had seen enough and relieved Smith with David Rittich.
The Flames shortly after went on the powerplay and had some great chances, seven shots alone on that powerplay, but Murray brought his game and stopped everything.
Late in the period, the Michael Stone took a penalty. The Flames did quite well at killing it off in the first half of the penalty-kill, but with one second left on the PP, Jack Johnson scored his first as a member of the Penguins. 7-0.
The Flames outshot the Pens 15-13 this period and although the score doesn’t show it, the Flames somewhat outplayed the Pens at even-strength in terms of possession.
Can we just not even talk about this period? The Calgary Flames came out quite aggressively in the third period and, for the first half of the period, were dominating. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to come back from a 7-0 deficit.
Shortly after the midway mark, Jake Guentzel tipped a shot in the net from Crosby. This is now an 8-0 game, folks.
With only two minutes left, after his good efforts all game, James Neal finally gets on the board cutting the lead to just seven goals. Sorry, Murray.
Matt Cullen added another goal 34 seconds later and this game finished 9-1. And in perfect Calgary Flames fashion, they outshot the Penguins 39-36 and also had about 20 more shot attempts than the Pens at 5on5.
Trust me, I’m speechless too.