Facing the surging San Jose Sharks, it was a tough task for the Flames who opted to insert Michael Stone into the lineup in favour of Rasmus Andersson, and allow Mike Smith to tend the net in the latter half of the back-to-back.
It didn’t take long for the Sharks to dent the scoreboard, as noted trashcan Evander Kane beat Smith from the faceoff dot just 50 seconds into the game. Smith settled in after that goal, and for the rest of the game looked largely fine in the crease. The Sharks outshot the Flames 12-8 in the opening frame, and for the first time in a long time, the Flames looked to be outplayed and outchanced.
The Sharks added to their lead early in the second with Joonas Donskoi scoring 1:28 into the period off a one timer in front of the net. The Flames would answer back a few minutes later with a goal of their own off the stick of Sean Monahan, but that was as close as they would come.
With the goalie pulled in the dying minutes of the game, Kane very obviously whacked the puck over the glass which should have given the Flames an automatic powerplay, but as the game goes, no call was made. Joe Pavelski would ice it with an empty netter just seconds later. The Flames fell 3-1 to the powerhouse Sharks, and finish their California road trip with a 1-2 record.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Sam Bennett led the team with 61.8% CF% in the match.
- Noah Hanifin had a team worst 38.7% CF%.
- James Neal and Elias Lindholm were on the ice for zero HDCF the whole game. Neal was also not present for a single SCF.
San Jose Sharks
- Pavelski finished the game with a team high 63.6% CF%.
- Logan Couture, despite getting injured, finished with a game high 91.7% SCF% with 11 SCF and just one SCA.
- Pavelski and Couture also finished with 100% HDCF%, with a combined score of 7-0.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Neal
Bennett – Ryan – Frolik
Hathaway – Jankowski – Czarnik
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Stone
San Jose Sharks
Kane – Pavelski – Donskoi
Meier – Couture – Hertl
Sorensen – Thornton – LaBanc
Suomela – Suomela – M. Karlsson
Ryan – Burns
Dillon – E. Karlsson
Vlasic – Braun
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
First things first, I have to start out by acknowledging that last night’s loss cannot be placed on Smith’s shoulders. The first goal he let in might have been early, but it was a good shot from a good spot off the stick of a good hockey player (but awful human). It’s not ideal to be down less than a minute into a game, but that was simply a good goal.
The Flames rely on puck possession to win games. They make quick passes to break out of their zone, set up in the offensive zone, and work it around to find shooting lanes. The Sharks play a similar style, but they do it slightly better than the Flames do.
The Sharks are legitimately one of the best shooting and Corsi teams in the NHL, and it really looked like the Flames met their match last night. That’s not to say they didn’t stand a chance; it was a very close game right up until the final buzzer. The Flames had several glorious opportunities to tie the game in the third, as they’ve done so many times this year, but just couldn’t seem to bury them behind Martin Jones who played an exceptional game.
The referees missing the obvious delay of game puck-over-glass (dogpog) was ridiculous. How can you not make that call? I’m still upset about it.
Bringing Stone into the game made sense, but I still didn’t like it. The idea is that you want to make sure he sees game action every once in a while so that if someone does go down with an injury, he’s not completely out of it. Subbing out Andersson is easy because they play the same side and Andersson is on the third pair which limits the restructuring of the pairings and can keep Stone’s minutes down (not to mention it was a back-to-back and the risk was low). Hopefully Stone doesn’t play again for a long time but I get it. In the same vein, despite Smith’s decent performance last night, I hope David Rittich is back in net for the next game.
You can’t win them all, and this was just one of those games where the Sharks earned it. The Flames have a few days off now before their next game against Montreal on Thursday which hopefully gives them enough time to gameplan against a surprisingly excellent Canadiens team.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly
Gaud: Giving this one to Smith, who put together a pretty decent game, the best since his win in Nashville. He’s back, baby!
Bad: Bennett’s one-on-one penalty shot chance to tie up the game in the third that was one of the easiest saves for Jones in the game. Not good.
Ugly: Missing a few penalty calls at the end of the third, including the incredibly obvious dogpog. Not blaming anything on the refs, they’re not the reason the Flames lost, but that was blatant. Get it together.
Opponent: Montreal Canadiens
Standings: 4th in the Atlantic
Season Series: 0-1-0