Flames' dismal shootout record comes back to haunt them in loss to Wild
After 2-1 loss, Calgary’s NHL squad has just one win in six tries at the Saddledome
The Calgary Flames were crummy in shootouts last season, 3-9.
Right now, they may be even worse.
Just 10 dates into their National Hockey League slate and already they’ve folded in three shootouts.
The latest was Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild, a decision that dips the Flames’ record to 3-4-3 — including only a single win in six tries at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“At the end of the day, it’s a battle,” said goalie Leland Irving. “We’re trying to win a hockey game here, and the shootout’s a big part of it.”
With the game knotted 1-1 — Kyle Brodziak scored for the travellers, Jiri Hudler for the hosts — overtime solved nothing.
That opened the door for the Flames’ least favourite part of the production.
First went Blair Jones, a grinder extraordinaire who’s enjoying a nice stretch of hockey. But he was foiled by goalie Niklas Backstrom.
“I’m comfortable with doing it,” said Jones. “The crappy thing about it is, you don’t score every time you go. I wish I would’ve scored. I’m pretty angry with myself.”
Which left Irving to face a murderers’ row of shooters.
Sandwiched around a nifty conversion by Hudler, Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu scored easily — and dazzlingly.
For Parise, that marked his 31st career shootout goal — tying him for the most among active skaters with Pavel Datsyuk. For Koivu, his 28th.
Old hands, they are.
“There is no book on Parise — he changes it up all the time,” said Irving. “He’s one of the best players in the world for a reason. Very poised. And Mikko Koivu is just a tremendous talent.
“I wasn’t patient. I bit pretty hard on a couple of the fakes. You’ve got to give them credit. Those are some of the top players in the world. I’m getting beat by the best.”
While the shootout didn’t break the locals’ way, there had been little to write about (literally) from the opening 60 or 65 minutes.
On the heels of Saturday’s 5-1 loss, the Flames disappointed themselves.
“Blown out in Vancouver, then responding with an effort that could have been better — frustrating,” said Jones. “It’s painful. We just have to have more urgency or whatever you want to say. We have to play with more jam. We’re making plays that are fine when you’re up five goals, but when you’re in a 1-1 game, you need to have a bit more awareness.”
Not that either team had been tickled by the process.
“We were turning pucks over, our execution was very poor,” said Minnesota coach Mike Yeo. “We were chasing the game a little too much there.”
Added Devin Setoguchi: “That might have been one of the ugliest wins you’ll ever see.”
No one could have blamed Irving, now 1-1-1 this season, for being preoccupied during his evening’s toil.
After all, earlier in the day his employers for some reason had snared Joey MacDonald off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings. The veteran netminder will practise here Tuesday.
“No, I’m just trying to get two points for this team,” Irving replied when asked if he’d been distracted by the news of MacDonald’s impending arrival. “I mean, that’s something that’s out of my control. I’m just going out there and trying to win a hockey game.”
Irving, in fact, has been fine since taking over last week for the injured Miikka Kiprusoff.
He was beaten only once Monday. And he had help.
Jarome Iginla, in his own zone, coughed up the puck. Setoguchi slipped it to Brodziak, who popped in a shot at 18:22 of the second period.
The other 23 attempts, Irving parried.
“It was a battle the whole night,” he said. “There were stretches when I wasn’t getting a lot of pucks. I really had to stay sharp and keep focused.”
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