The Calgary Flames rematched against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second half of a back-to-back set, and while the Leafs were looking to extend their lead in the North Division, the Flames were looking to avoid losing four straight games for the second time this season—the previous losing streak and their current one sandwiches a single win the Flames put up against the Jets.
For one team, the task at hand was simple: Beat the Flames. For the other team, it was a steep uphill battle: Beat one of the best teams in the league and do so while struggling on offence. Well, most people would be able to guess how this one turned out.
Let’s check some notes. In their previous seven losses, the Flames scored either zero, one, or two goals per game. Seems like a good starting ingredient for the Flames would be to score at least three goals. Okay got that? Good. Keep that in mind.
The game opened with a scoreless first period, but the Flames deserve some credit for their first twenty minutes of play. They looked decent, and were for several instances in the period the better team. However, both Jack Campbell and his counterpart Jacob Markstrom were up to the goaltending task and kept the game tied at zero.
The Leafs scored first in the second period, as 37-year-old Jason Spezza scored his ninth goal of the season while making a spiffy $700Kthis season. That goal more or less deflated the Flames, and they sat back until the Leafs scored again, the second time coming off of an Auston Matthews trademark snipe.
At least being down by two finally woke the Flames up, as they started pushing back and showed signs of life. Finally, with under two minutes left in the period, Andrew Mangiapane picked up a rebound off of a Noah Hanifin shot and cut the Flames’ deficit to one—a much better spot to be in heading into the third period.
The Flames weren’t giving up without a fight, which was a bit of a welcomed surprise. Early in the third, the Flames tied it up at two apiece. Mikael Backlund shot the puck right after an offensive zone faceoff and it caught Campbell off guard. However, just three minutes later, the Leafs restored their lead. A shot towards the net from Pierre Engvall was tipped in by Wayne Simmonds while he was on his knees right in front of Markstrom.
By now, the Flames of days’ past might have given up, but it looked like Backlund had other plans in mind. While shorthanded, he and Elias Lindholm were sprung on a two-on-one and they combined for pretty passes that ended with Campbell being flat on his back and out of position while Backlund had an empty net to score on.
With the game knotted at three goals a side, and in particular two third period goals from Calgary, it started to feel like anything could happen. The cynics can rejoice though, everything expected happened after all: the Leafs scored two more from Matthews and John Tavares. Late in the third, Mangiapane was tacked for a double minor for highsticking Zach Hyman, and that was all the Flames wrote.
So even when the Flames “break out” and finally surpass the nearly insurmountable three goal threshold, they still fall short and succumb five goals against. Just one of those seasons.
Game visualisations are below.
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