ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Consider Alex Tanguay a history buff, of sorts, at least when it comes to black pits for his Calgary Flames.
The cerebral left winger arrived at the Honda Center Friday with precise knowledge of the last time Calgary escaped the Happiest Place on Earth with two points (Jarome Iginla just happened to be a late scratch on that fateful night of Jan 19, 2004.)
“I was bugging Iggy this morning,” Tanguay was saying with a broad grin. “I think he was out with the flu or something for that game. So maybe we’ll have to send him the flu this afternoon, and he’ll sit this one out so maybe we can win.”
Tanguay was kidding. Really he was.
Not that it mattered in the end.
Even with a healthy Iginla on board, the Flames saw their streak of futility extend to 16 games without a win in Anaheim with a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.
Perhaps this NHL realignment idea, which will see the Flames play in the same division as Anaheim, isn’t so hot after all
“They’ve beaten a lot of teams here this year, right?” Iginla said. “They have one loss here this year. They play well at home here, they do.”
Give the Flames credit: they displayed plenty of heart and jam on a night where the scoreboard showed anything but against a team riding a 10-game winning streak at home.
As a harbinger of things to come, the Flames surrendered the first goal just 75 seconds into the proceedings. Andrew Cogliano set up shop behind the Calgary net and feathered a pass to Daniel Winnik in the slot.
Miikka Kiprusoff had no chance as Anaheim staked out a 1-0 lead.
From there, the Flames took over. They out-hit, out-chanced and generally out–played the second-best team in the league for the better part of 30 minutes. Heck, they even held at one point a commanding 22-9 lead on the shot-clock.
“I looked up at the score in the second period, and it was 1-0,” said Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman. “It was just one of those games that felt like we should be winning by a few.”
“I thought we carried most of the play for half of it,” Iginla said. “But they’re winning a lot of games, this year, and they were able to weather it.”
Were they ever. One mistake against the Ducks top line of Bobby Ryan-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry can prove lethal, and that’s exactly what happened to spell the end of any Calgary comeback.
In uncharacteristic fashion, defenceman Mark Giordano coughed up the puck along the wall.
With the Flames scrambling, Ryan ripped a shot five hole to put the Ducks up 2-0 at 13:38 of the second period.
Two minutes later, Sheldon Souray ripped one of his trademark slapshots behind a screened Kiprusoff to make it 3-0 for Anaheim. Getzlaf banked in a loose puck off the Calgary goalie at 16:18 of the third to call it a night.
“They’re an opportunistic team,” Wideman said. “They sit there. They wait. You give them one chance, and boom, goal.
“That’s tough. We should be better defensively.”
And so the Disney curse, for Calgary, sits at 16 games ... and counting.
“Obviously it’s not a good number for us how many times we’ve been here,” Iginla said. “You know, I don’t even remember winning here.”
Good news for Flames fans: Calgary does not return to the Happiest Place on Earth again this season, save, of course, for the remote possibility of a playoff appearance.
With the loss, the Flames (9-9-4) slip back to .500 with two road games looming against the Los Angeles Kings.
“We have to bounce back,” said head coach Bob Hartley. “It’s such a tight schedule. You have to turn around. Whether the result is good or bad, tomorrow morning is another challenge in front of us. We’re playing back-to-back the Stanley Cup champions.
“This is a good test for us. Tonight, obviously, the results are very disappointing. But I can’t fault the effort. I can’t fault the execution. We just didn’t put the red light on.”
The Herald’s Three Stars
1. Ducks G Viktor Fasth: Turns away 29 shots – many of them of the high-quality variety on a flawless night in the Anaheim night.
2. Ducks D Sheldon Souray: Solid on both ends of the rink with two blocked shots and absolute bullet from the point that fools Miikka Kiprusoff.
3. Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf: A goal and an assist to celebrate an eight-year contract that, in the words of Herald columnist George Johnson, gives the Anaheim captain enough dough to purchase Downtown Abbey.
Why the Flames Lost:
*Because they surrendered a goal just 75 seconds in and failed to capitalize against a goalie at the top of his game.
* Because, defensively, they committed a grievous turnover to lead to the second Anaheim goal and cost them any chance of winning the game.
The Big Hit:
In the second period, Flames LW Curtis Glencross introduces himself to Anaheim RW Corey Perry near the Calgary bench by absolutely flattening the former Hart Trophy winner.
The Big Save
With the Flames down 3-0 in the third period, Anaheim C Nick Bonino strips Calgary D Jay Bouwmeester in the neutral zone and roars in on a clear-cut breakaway. Calgary G Miikka Kiprusoff jams down this right pad to (sort of) keep the game in reach.
The Big Fight
On a night with plenty of heavy hits on wickedly bad ice, Calgary RW Tim Jackman tries to get Anaheim TW Brad Staubitz to go in the first period. Jackman even throws down a mitt to cement the invitation, but Staubitz declines.
*Flames scratches/injuries: C Mikael Backlund (knee), C Paul Byron (hand), LW Sven Baertschi, D Cory Sarich, and D Anton Babchuk.
*Ducks scratches/injuries: RW Kyle Palmieri (upper body), D Bryan Allen (flu), C Brandon McMillan
The Flames hit the freeway for back-to-back tilts against their former boss, Darryl Sutter, and his Los Angeles Kings on Saturday (8 p.m.; CBC) and Monday (8 p.m., SNET-W).
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