Gritty Flames Drop One in Capital

Two Losses In A Row Tightens Playoff Race

February 21st, 2004

On a day when Canada harkens back to its games' roots, the tradition of hockey, and the sport's history in the nation, you can forgive the Calgary Flames for keeping their collective eye very much focuses on the future.

The locals may want to cast a glance back as well however, as things continue to tighten up in the Western Conference playoff race with the Flames dropping a 2-1 decision in Ottawa.

The club was looking to get off to a better start, and rid themselves of some nasty bad habits that cropped up in their listless performance in Montreal.

The physical side of the game was back in place with the team's defence core, chided by coach Darryl Sutter after a no hitter in la belle Provence, a little more owly in taking the physical play to the Senators, and limiting them to only 23 shots.

Offensively however, the club struggled to generate much from their top two lines for the second straight game, the difference in a very close contest with one of the league's best clubs.

They Flames played with fire early, taking three first period undisciplined penaltes against the league's best powerplay, finally getting burnt on the third try.

Calgary opened the scoring on a powerplay on a Jordan Leopold goal that can only be described as a weak one by Ottawa's struggling goaltender Patrick Lalime. 

Leopold took the puck at the blueline, skated around an Ottawa defender and fired a low wrister that Lalime simply missed.

The Senators evened the score towards the end of the period with a silly one of their own when Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson fired a low point shot that was tipped in tight by Bryan Smolinski, flipped up in the air and just out of the reach of a stretching Roman Turek and into the goal.

The start was Turek's first since beating the Canucks ten days ago, and the first glimpse of a pretty strong tandem in Calgary that Calgary fans have seen in years.

The Flames were a little better in the second period, continuing to give up the edge territorially but keeping the blue chip chances to a minimum.

Heading to the third period the Flames had what seemed to be the ultimate road game in Ottawa with the game 20 minutes from conclusion and all squared at one.

Things fell off the table early though, when Martin Havlat picked up a tipped puck turnover and beat Roman Turek with a brilliant hoisted backhand.

On the replay Havlat himself appeared to be offside, suggesting the goal should have been called back.

With the lead the Senators played a less robust style and the Flames opened things up a bit, leading to the game's best stretch for the visitors, but no goals to show for it.

With the goalie pulled and the Flames up a man Jordan Leopold found himself wide open in front of the net with a handful of seconds left, but was stoned by Patrick Lalime. 

Next up for Calgary is another matinee tomorrow in New Jerseay, a game that is now all important as Calgary can ill afford to drop three in a row with the lack of breathing space in the West.





1) Martin Havlat - Offside or not, Havlat's game winner moves were highlight reel quality. 

2) Zdeno Chara - Hulking defenceman deserves at a good deal of the credit for a very silent Jarome Iginla 

3) Jordan Leopold - Scored Calgary's goal and came within a whisker of tying it with a handful of seconds left.

Late in the third period Ottawa tough guy Chris Neil turned the hunter into the hunted when he crunched Denis Gauthier into the boards behind Roman Turek.

With just a few seconds left on the clock the recently shaky Patrick Lalime preserved the win by getting his pad on a Jordan Leopold shot.

With Lynn Loyns inserted into the lineup, Sutter chose to scratch Calgary cop Krzys Oliwa, a strange development given his gritty game in Montreal. ... After the game, CBC returned to its coverage of Hockey Day in Canada where Dick Irvin shockingly talked about his father (apologies for overt sarcasm). ... With an early game over, the players will now turn in to spectators watching out of town scores as the Kings host the Jackets, and the Predators play in Phoenix. A King's win would move them to within one point of Calgary. Funny how fast a cushion can disappear in the parity-mad NHL. ... Oleg Saprykin led all Calgary shooters with just three shots on goal, four other players had two shots on goal, but not a single Calgary threat managed more than one shot on goal. Steve Reinprecht, Craig Conroy, Shean Donovan, Martin Gelinas and Dean McAmmond all had just one shot. Jarome Iginla had a goose egg. ... The Flames had another one of "those" games on the powerplay where they finish a decent one for six, but failed to generate any offence or even get set up for most of the night. It was the difference in this game. ... Ottawa took 55% of the faceoffs, putting an emphasis once again on how much the Flames need Ottawa native Stephane Yelle back in their lineup. Matthew Lombardi was the difference in this one, struggling to a 23% success rate. ... Robyn Regehr led all Flame skaters with 22:02 of ice time, edging out battery mate Jordan Leopold 21:38 and Jarome Iginla 21:31.

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