After letting in the most goals they have all season long last game against the Florida Panthers, the Calgary Flames looked to turn things around versus the other team in Florida. Facing off against repeat Stanley Cup winners the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Flames had another tough challenge ahead—especially with Lightning star Nikita Kucherov activated just in time for them to come into town.
The Flames turned to Daniel Vladar in net, opting to save Jacob Markstrom for the second half of their back-to-back set (against the Carolina Hurricanes). The on-ice product the Flames displayed was not one of a contender at all. They were dominated right out of the gate with barely any ability to create high-danger chances, whereas they bled chances against throughout the first.
Also, for the second game in a row, there was quite a lot of heat between the two teams. Midway through the period, Noah Hanifin dropped the gloves against Mathieu Joseph. It’d be Hanifin’s first fight since the 2017–18 season, back when he was still a Hurricane.
Despite the shots being somewhat even after the first, the Flames were lucky to escape the period with the game tied with both teams goalless. Vladar was holding down the fort and doing it against a team like the Lightning is no easy task.
The middle frame was all around not good for the Flames. They had just five shots in total, whereas the Lightning were able to keep pressure on throughout the period. The Lightning ended up scoring first on a play with Flames public enemy #1 Corey Perry getting the goal.
Shortly after, there was more bad blood between the teams as Brad Richardson got into a tilt with Boris Katchouk after hitting Joseph high in the head. The result after the dust settled was that Richardson was served a match penalty to end his night.
Vladar again was keeping the Flames in the game, saving 26 of 27 shots against. The team in front of him put up just 13 shots after 40 minutes of play, which makes for tough odds getting the job done.
Being down just one goal, the Flames went into the third period looking to mount a comeback. However, less than three minutes in the final frame, Calgarian Brayden Point scored on a near empty net after receiving a pass through the slot from Kucherov. This extended the Bolts’ lead to 2–0. At this point the Lightning started shutting things down while the Flames finally started mounting more sustained pressure.
However, the Flames were still not generating good scoring chances and were limited in their high-danger plays. Midway through the third period, the Lightning scored two goals in 14 seconds. The first goal came from Ondrej Palat, again with a perfect feed from Kucherov from behind the net right into the slot. The Flames were unfortunate to have Kucherov return to action this game, but it made the litmus test of figuring out the type of team the Flames need to ice to be taken seriously as contenders all the more clearer—they aren’t quite there yet.
On the ensuing faceoff, the Flames lost possession in the offensive zone, and in the Lightning’s transition into the Flames’ zone, Alex Killorn immediately striked with a perfect snipe to put the Bolts up 4–0.
At this point, the Lightning were essentially done with offence generation as they keeled off the shut the Flames down instead. However, with just over four minutes to go, the Flames ended Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s shutout bid. Dillon Dube picked up his fourth goal of the season on a perfectly placed shot that picked the top corner above Vasilevskiy’s glove.
The Flames get the consolation prize of not being shutout, (coincidentally in the 2020–21 season their first shutout loss was also their 32nd game of the year), however it was not a pretty result in Tampa Bay. Blake Coleman didn’t have a particularly great night in his return to Tampa either.
Calgary has one game left in the road trip. After losing two straight in the state of Florida, they are going to have to dig deep to find a way back into the win column against the Hurricanes. They’re right back in action tomorrow.
As for tonight’s game, the visualisations are presented below.
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