Same Old Story
Cinderfella is dead.
After a storybook start to the season the Flames have spent two months letting divisional rivals gradually creep back into the playoff race.
And now its official - the Flames are once again chasing a playoff spot after losing 3-1 at home last night to the New York Islanders. Combined with a 2-0 Los Angeles victory over Nashville, the Flames are outside looking in, one point behind the Kings and fading badly once again with their third straight loss.
The Flames have won just six of their last 27 games and now stand at 19-17-8-2 on the season, good for 48 points. Phoenix trails Calgary by two points, the Canucks are only three behind and Minnesota is five in arrears. No point in looking up right now.
For the second straight game the Flames badly out-shot an opponent and probably deserved a better fate in this one. Calgary started slowly and New York dominated the opening stanza, out-shooting Calgary 14-8 and opened scoring on, predictably, the power play. Defenceman Adrian Aucoin managed to sneak in from the blueline and deposit a rebound into an open net behind Calgary starter Roman Turek only 3:12 into the contest.
The Flames came out flying in the second period and evened the affair at 1-1 when Igor Kravchuk, with a shift the Flames would love to see more of, drilled a point shot, picked up his own rebound, whirled around the net, circled out front in Fleury-esque fashion, and beat a twisted Chris Osgood at 8:59.
But the Isles, who had only three shots in the period compared to 16 for Calgary, pulled ahead for good at 18:28 when Aucoin drilled a straight and true point shot through a screen and beyond the grasp of Turek who failed to even move.
Islanders entered the game 19-0-3 when leading after two periods.
The Flames pressed throughout the remainder of the game but both netminders were sterling before Mike Peca put the game out of reach with a controversial open net marker at 19:19.
The contest opened a six game home stand for the Flames, one many consider critical for determining the teams' playoff fortunes. It was the first Islander win in Calgary since November 1992.
Flames were zero for three on the powerplay in spite of the return of Derek Morris while the Islanders were one for three. Calgary has been taking significantly fewer penalties of late - not a bad idea since they continue to have problems killing them.
Attendance was 15,624.
Next up is Mario Lemieux and Pittsburgh on Thursday night. It goes without saying the Flames have to win.
||New York Islanders
1) Chris Osgood - For the second straight game, the opposing goaltender is the first star against the Flames.
2) Mike Peca - a pest all night while Alexei Yashin was a non-factor.
3) Roman Turek - Don't blame this one on him. Stood his ground in the first and gave his team a chance.
OF THE GAME
Maybe it was the lucky break of the game. With the Isles up 2-1 and the Flames pressing, Osgood fumbled a shot, which slid behind him towards the goalline but bumped up against the post. He then pounced on it just as Chris Clark was wacking to put it in.
OF THE GAME
It was Robyn Regehr's best game in a long time. Energized by the return of defence partner Derek Morris, Regehr pasted a charging Alexei Yashin late in the first period behind the Flames net.
It was the seventh ranked face-off unit (New York) versus the ninth ranked unit (Calgary) and the Flames stuffed the Islanders 56% to 44% on the night. Peca was 52% on the night for the visitors while Jarome Iginla was 87% for Calgary ... Islanders outhit Calgary 24-20 with Shawn Bates leading the way with four for the visitors. Denis Gauthier, returning from an injury, Regehr and Scott Nichol led the Flames with three each ... With Jaromir Jagr having shorn his locks, the new long hair champion in the NHL has to be Marko Kiprusoff of the Islanders ... Derek Morris played 22:59 in his return and did offer up a few plays that reminded his team of why they missed him, on one occasion head-manning the puck and springing Craig Berube and Clark Wilm free on a two on one. Nice thought, wrong two guys. Nevertheless, it was that type of play which will help Calgary find their speed game, forcing opposing defencemen to back off and creating neutral zone space. Jarome Iginla led the Flames with 23:51 in ice time while Kenny Jonsson totalled 30:42 for the Islanders.