It was the biggest game of the year. Or at least, that’s what it was being made out to be. The Calgary Flames entered last night’s game against the San Jose Sharks four points up in the Pacific Division and in first place. The Sharks, right behind them. Unfortunately for the Flames, this game was over early.
After opening the scoring off a tip-in goal from Mark Jankowski, the Sharks responded with two quick goals. Evander Kane was given a perfect pass that allowed him to spin and fire the puck five-hole on David Rittich. Then, after a costly turnover by Johnny Gaudreau at the Sharks’ blue line, two Sharks players were about to have a clear cut shot at Rittich, but the Flames netminder decided to challenge the puck and made an error. Brent Burns fired it into the empty net, prompting a goaltending change from Bill Peters. It was an interesting choice considering Rittich had only allowed two goals on six shots and Mike Smith always gets more rope than that, but nevertheless, Smith would finish the game for the Flames. He let in a goal on the first shot he faced. It was over at that point.
The Flames pushed back hard, but couldn’t solve Martin Jones in this one. Smith allowed two more goals and the Sharks sealed the game 5-2.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Garnet Hathaway and Derek Ryan led the Flames with 62.5% CF each in the contest.
- Sean Monahan was a team worst 45.2% CF.
- Only three Flames finished below 50% CF in the game, Dalton Prout and Mark Giordano joining Monahan.
San Jose Sharks
- Tomas Hertl led the Sharks with 58.8% CF.
- Melker Karlsson was a game-low 27.3% CF.
- All but five Sharks finished with at least 50% SCF.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Prout – Andersson
San Jose Sharks
Meier – Couture – Pavelski
Kane – Hertl – Donskoi
Sorensen – Thornton – Labanc
Goodrow – Gambrell – Karlsson
Simek – Burns
Vlasic – Heed
Dillon – Braun
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
That game wasn’t the game of all games. People need to stop overreacting and take it as it is; the Flames got beaten by a really good team that was hungry for a win and capitalized on goaltending mistakes. It happens.
I didn’t hate the way the Flames played in the second and third periods. Pulling Rittich was one of the stupidest decisions Peters has made this season, in my opinion, and his rationale for “giving the team a spark” is a nonsense argument when Smith’s tendency to give up bad goals is much, much higher than Rittich’s. How does Smith inspire a comeback when he has barely been able to make a save this year? I sincerely hope Rittich gets the start in the next game because he’s earned a chance to rebound. If you’ve given that kind of leash to Smith this year, you better extend the same courtesy to Rittich.
Last note on this one, can we all just agree that injecting a tough player into the lineup who can’t play hockey is a bad idea? Evander Kane wasn’t intimidated by Prout last night. Nobody on the Sharks bench cared even a little bit that he was in the game. In fact, they probably loved it because of how easy it was to get a mismatch on offense. Prout was useless. He did nothing useful whatsoever and he bring absolutely nothing to the table. This argument that you have to have a tough guy in the lineup is complete garbage and it frustrates me that we still have this happening in the year 2019.
I guess I am a little big upset about that game. It would have been amazing for the Flames to come out on top and have a six point cushion on the Sharks, but they’re still in first place and still have an excellent chance of winning the division. Hopefully they can get back into the win column next game.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly
Good: The Flames’ pushback in the second period. They really came back hard and that’s good to see.
Bad: 1/7 on the powerplay. Not good enough. Yes, they had some absolutely stellar chances and on a different night could have scored four or five powerplay goal, but they didn’t.
Ugly: Three goals in 1:24 and three consecutive shots. Need to have better goaltending.
Opponent: Vancouver Canucks
Standings: 4th in Pacific
Season Series: 1-1-0
Photo by Terence Leung/NHLI via Getty Images