Bad calls. Bad reaction.
“I control only our players,” said Bob Hartley, taking the high. “That’s my responsibility. We went to the box too many times.
“It’s tough. We’re a young team. We want to win. We have the menalty that we’re in the playoffs and we’re fighting for our lives every game. That’s a credit to our guys. They bought in.
“We got frustrated. It’s a new experience for us. We’ll learn.”
In search of a third consecutive win, the Calgary Flames collapsed under the weight of a third-period penalty epidemic, falling 3-2 to the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
So they head home 1-1 on this short junket, having come back from two down to edge the Dallas Stars on Friday.
During one dizzying stretch Saturday, Calgary was whistled for six consecutive third-period penalties. The queue to the visiting box looked like the lineup that’ll undoubtedly form for tickets to Katy Perry Prismatic Tour stop here in late September.
That barrage of bad behaviour, some the punishment deserved, some frankly mysitifying and some borne out of exasaperation wore them down, drove them batty and ultimately did them in.
“I haven’t,” murmurred captain Mark Giordano, “seen too many third periods like that, where it’s tied going in and I don’t know how many row it was? Five or six? You’re not going to win too many games where you’re shorthanded 12 of 20 minutes.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game. I didn’t think it was that lopsided that one team had to take so many more penalties than the other.”
The aging warrior, Shane Doan, as he’s done so often during his career, tipped home a Keith Yandle point shot for the game winner, his 350th career goal, at 8:49. On that one, Calgary defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon had been confined to the bad-boy bin for tugging back David Moss as the ex-Flame got an outside step on the rugged rookie.
But he wasn’t alone in being censured.
In order of transgression:
*Curtis Glencross for roughing (legit).
*Paul Byron for boarding (legit).
*Tyler Wotherspoon for holding (marginal).
*Mikael Backlund for cross-checking, before a face-off (silly).
*Mikael Backlund for roughing (avoidable).
*T.J. Brodie for unsportsmanlike conduct (unnecessary).
“We’re all emotional,” said Hartley. “It’s not only the players. We’re trying to regain composure but it piles on. For example, Brodes. He never says a word. He’s probably the quietest guy on the team, If you’d ask me who was the last guy to take an unsportsmanlike it’d be Brodes. But he got it.
“We got frustrated. And we paid for it.”
“I think there’s a little bit of a lesson to be learned,” echoed Mike Cammalleri. “Whether you gree with the calls or not we’re better off staying away from the ref and turning the other cheek. It’s just human nature when you get combative like and maybe go out of your way to show that it usually doesn’t work out in your favour.
“It we could’ve kept our emotional level in check a little better, maybe you don’t get to three and four (penalties).”
The two points were certainly there for the taking after Hartley’s crew put in one of its most complete periods in recent memory to erase a 2-0 first-intermission deficit.
In typical swashbuckling fashion, Hartley’s charges refused to buckle under. Getting things going, the surging Cammalleri spun off the half boards and Glencross, setting up squatter’s rights at the lip of the crease, deflected the ensuing shot behind Smith at 7:46.
The goal was the injury-plagued left winger’s first since Dec. 15th. The look of his relief on his face
Right in their wheelhouse, staging a comeback, the Flames poured forward. They very nearly equalized shorthanded, an atrocious pass selection by Coyotes’ skipper Shane Doan sending Paul Bryon into the Phoenix zone on the fly, 2-on-1. A desperate Antoine Vermette managed to tug at Byron and put him him down some, but the speedy centreman still slung a diagonal pass across to Cammalleri, forcing Smith to an awkward save.
The way the fortunes had tilted, though, it only seemed a matter of time before Calgary would draw level. And the goal came via the powerplay TJ Galiardi going down awfully, easily on minimal contact from Jeff Halpern.
If the call was undeniably iffy, the finish proved anything but, Cammalleri’s pinpoint pass finding Backlund at the near post for a tip-in at 15:37.
Calgary pounded 18 shots at Smith that period, as opposed to only six directed at Ortio.
“Our guys deserve credit,” praised Hartley. “Joni Ortio didn’t panic after the second goal. We didn’t panic. We talked in between the first and second. We’re very focused.
“And then that third period ... pretty tough to explain.”
The ‘Yotes had pushed into the lead at 4:35 of the first, defenceman Chris Summers hustling up into the attack as both defenceman Kris Russell and the backchecking Sean Mohanan both peeled away, deflecting a hard centring pass from left winger Lauri Korpikoski beyond Ortio.
The quality of the tip belied the fact that it marked Summers’ first NHL career goal.
The second goal was one of thos embarrassing moment a goaltender lives through every once in a while, Ortio caught puck-watching behind the net and as it lay at his feet, Rob Klinkhammer stealing in to retrieve as Ortio stood as if in a trance, and casually opened the gift.
“Right from Day One, he’s got a little bit of a swagger to him, in his personality and his game, which I like to see,” said Cammalleri of Ortio. “You like it when he’s got a bit of ‘Oomph!’ to his game.
“That’s Joni. He said ‘Sorry, boys, my bad’ and then went out and shut the door for us for a while.”
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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