Taketh, Giveth Away
And then ... there was one.
The Flames, once a full 11 games over .500 in early November are
now one game past the break even point thanks to a draining 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh
Penguins on Thursday at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Preseason estimates put the West's final playoff margin in and
around 90 points, and the Flames were well on their way to eclipsing that mark
with a grade "A" start to their season. Now, just one game over .500
and trailing the upstart L.A. Kings, the Flames will some how have to turn a
team that has only one six games in their last 28 starts to a team that somehow
finds a way to secure 40 points in their last 35 games.
Don't hold your breath?
The Flames got off on the right foot in this one,
scoring the games first goal and exiting the first frame with a lead for
the first time since a game in Long Island ten days ago.
First period goals by Chris Clark and Craig Conroy
sandwiched a Alexsy Morozov tally in a period where the Flmaes appeared
to have jump, and was taking the play to the Penguins.
The second period was a different matter.
After an early period, spirited penalty kill the Flames
found themselves short handed again when Craig Berube picked up a double
minor in a fight that never was with Penguin tough guy Kristoff Oliwa.
On the ensuing powerplay Morozov secured his second of
the night catapulting the Penguins to a runaway three goal period. The
other two second period goals by Pittsburgh were provided by Robert Lang
on a two on one, and Morozov again with a hat trick goal.
The Flames offered little resistance as they basically
slept through a listless period.
The third period had a more invigorated Flame squad hit
the ice, as they once again took the game to Pittsbugh.
Jarome Iginla provided the spark needed to get the
comeback underway when he beat a startled Johan Hedberg with an
unscreened shot through the pads five minutes into the period.
A few minutes later the Flames almost tied the game on a
play that would have likely landed Hedberg in the Hardy Astrom hall of
fame. While shorthanded Bob Boughner fired the puck in on goal from
center ice. Hedberg didn't appear to see the puck and just got his pad
out in time to skirt disaster.
With just over four minutes left in the period the
Flames tied the score when Igor Kravchuk popped his second goal in two
games. While on the powerplay Kravchuk wristed a shot toward the Pen's
cage and found mesh when the puck glanced off Pittsburgh defenceman
Though momentum was firmly on the Flames side at that
point, the comeback wasn't meant to be on this night as the Penguins
struck for the go ahead goal and game winner 25 seconds later, when Jan
Hrdina converted a Alexei Kovalev pass to put the Pens back ahead.
The Flames once again pressed to tie the score but gave
teh game away for good when Igor Kravchuk caughed up the puck in an
attempted cross ice pass resulting in an empty net goal by Mario Lemieux.
The loss moves the Flames record to 19-18-8-2, meaning
the squad has staggered to a 6-16-6-0 record since opening the season
The loss itself may not be as damning as it could have
been with Phoenix, Vancouver and possibly L.A. all going down to defeat
on the night as well (L.A. trails the Sabres 2-1 in the third period at
time of print).
Inexplicably the Saddledome failed to sell out with
Mario Lemeiux possibly taking his last shift in Calgary as only 15,437
souls were in attendance.
Mario Lemieux -
If that was Super
Mario's last skate
in Calgary he didn't
disappoint with a
goal and three
2) Alexsy Morozov - The talented, but enigmatic winger
was visible all night, scoring three goals and adding three blatant, head
3) Craig Conroy - One goal, one assist, and a plus one.
OF THE GAME
a second period
Hedberg slid across
and stoned the snake
bitten Marc Savard
to keep the score 3
to 2 for the
OF THE GAME
a hit that likely
should have been an
Gauthier lined up
game star Morozov
with a stellar open
ice hit in the first
period. The only
problem? The puck
was more than 15
feet away from the
Pen winger when the
boom was lowered.
it possible to lose
on special teams
with an upside?
however the Flames
did manage to even
the output quotient
on the night for
once, matching the
Penguins with a
apiece. The Penguins
managed to score
their powerplay goal
on three chances
compared to the
Flames five. ... The
Flames once again
carried the play for
60% of the game, but
lost the game in the
second period when
they were dreadful.
... The Flames were
dominant in the
taking 61% of the
draws. Clarke Wilm
and Craig Conroy
took the majority of
the draws. ... The
oddly low hit count
at the Saddledome
was at it again with
only 16 hits
registered for each
side. Five different
Flames had two hits
apiece on the night,
while the Pen's
led the way with