Calgary Flames’ goalie Joni Ortio, of Finland, allows a goal to Vancouver Canucks’ Yannick Weber, of Switzerland, during third period NHL hockey action in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 8, 2014.
Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red-faced and out of breath, an angry Lance Bouma slammed his hockey bag shut which pretty much said it all.
“We don’t like losing to those guys,” said the Calgary Flames forward, minutes after losing a 2-1 decision at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks. “We don’t like them very much. It’s disappointing because, overall, we had a pretty good effort but we couldn’t come up with a win.”
Which, simply put, was exactly how Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada battle shook down. And, in comparison to Calgary’s last visit to Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, it was relatively uneventful.
The first two seconds came and went without a peep from either team which was the first difference from the Jan. 18 clash which saw a line brawl as soon as the puck was dropped.
Predictably, there had been questions over Flames head coach Bob Hartley’s starting lineup (the catalyst of the last game).
But the combination of Lance Bouma, Markus Granlund, and Brian Mc Grattan squared off against the Canucks’ third line (technically) of Tom Sestito, Shawn Matthias, and David Booth and there were no fireworks. Also worth pointing out, Vancouver head coach John Tortorella stayed on his side of the hallway between periods.
McGrattan, one of the combatants in January’s shenanigans, scored Calgary’s first marker 2:13 into the second period after blasting a slapshot outside the Canucks’ blueline. The attempt was initially so McGrattan’s trio could get a change but it sadly trickled through rookie goalie Eddie Lack’s right pad.
Vancouver countered when newcomer Darren Archibald picked up a loose puck left by Corban Knight in Joni Ortio’s left-hand corner and stuffed it in to tie the game 1-1.
The Flames had a dynamite chance to get ahead on a line rush in the third period when rookie Sean Monahan took a pass from Mikael Backlund and had Lack completely sucked over to his left side. That opened the door for Bouma who had a wide-open net on the other side but he hit a post.
Unfortunately for the Calgarians, the Canucks responded with some energy of their own and, at the five minute mark of the third period, Yannick Weber planted in a rebound kicked out by Joni Ortio.
“A tight-checking game,” noted Hartley. “There was not much room on both sides. They scored that goal, Weber game in, and we lost him. That was the game.
“But, hey, we had our chances and we didn’t get the equalizer.”
The Flames sacrificed their shins (and other body parts) and blocked 32 shots but the Canucks also countered with 32.
Frustratingly, the Flames also had three third-period powerplays (thanks to Chris Higgins) but simply could not solve Lack.
Unlike Friday’s 4-3 third-period comeback win over the New York Islanders, they could not grind their way out of this one.
Outside of the normal hacking and slashing, the teams behaved for the most part.
In fact the only rough stuff that happened during Saturday’s game was a mini-scrap between Mark Giordano and Kevin Bieksa. Giordano had delivered an elbow that crumpled the Canucks defenceman in front of the home team bench. Bieksa nudged Giordano who took the invitation immediately.
The Flames captain would need to leave the ice to have his eye stitched up but was back before the end of the first frame.
Sure, they’d been thinking about the last time. But they also knew it likely wouldn’t happen again.
So, Saturday’s game was a buzz kill all around.
“Like I said before, we don’t like each other and it’s always a game we get up for,” Bouma said. “It’s disappointing to lose to these guys.”
Since that Jan. 18 game --- which resulted in 204 penalties, a $25,000 fine for Hartley, and a 15-day suspension for Tortorella --- the Canucks have seemed to be in a downward spiral.
However, Saturday’s game snapped a three-game losing streak for the Roberto Luongo-less group giving them their second win in 12 games.
The Flames now are 25-32-7 with two big tests ahead for their rookie-laden group against the Los Angeles (Monday) and the Anaheim Ducks (Wednesday).
The Flames injuries/missing bodies were G Karri Ramo (knee), D Dennis Wideman (upper body), C Matt Stajan (personal), LW Jiri Hudler (upper body), LW Curtis Glencross (ankle), RW Kevin Westgarth (concussion), and RW David Jones (shoulder) ... The Canucks were without LW Daniel Sedin (hamstring), C-RW Mike Santorelli (shoulder surgery), D Andrew Alberts (concussion), LW Zack Kassian (suspended) C Brad Richardson (upper body) and D Ryan Stanton (undisclosed).
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