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A strong performance in Arizona gives Flames something to build off

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

GLENDALE, AZ -- The result wasn't what they wanted but the Calgary Flames have plenty of positives to build off of from the 2-1 overtime setback in Arizona on Friday.

The Flames outshot the Coyotes 26-21, had an additional 30 shots attempts that were blocked or missed the net, and had a 58.1 percent possession rate (even strength). They did an excellent job limiting a physical Arizona squad's time and space, moving the puck up-ice with speed, and they netted a power play goal -- an elusive commodity this season, given the team's special teams struggles.

If not for an incredible performance by Coyotes netminder Mike Smith the result might have been different.

"I thought we did some better things. I thought we played a really good game throughout," defenceman Kris Russell said afterwards.

"This is a game we can definitely build off of."

But in three-on-three overtime, all bets are off and it was Coyotes defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson who ended up burying his chance with just 39.9 seconds remaining in the extra session. Arizona's overtime winner followed a flurry of chances by the Flames in their bid to remain perfect in the extra frame.

"It was a tough way to lose, obviously, in overtime," said Mark Giordano, who tallied Calgary's only marker in the second period. "But three-on-three, there's going to be a lot of chances on both sides. I thought we had a couple looks, they had, obviously, a couple looks and scored on the winner.

"But overall, I thought we played a pretty good game."

Dougie Hamilton agreed with his captain's assessment, making note of the team's much-improved puck possession as a strong point in Friday's affair.

"We had the puck more [last night], that was the biggest thing," the 22-year-old said. "There's been a lot of games in the past where we're just in our own zone and I thought ... we had more of the possession, in their zone and in the neutral zone and everything. That's the way we have to play.

"It's unfortunate that we couldn't score more than one goal. I think that's just what happens sometimes."

Head coach Bob Hartley couldn't fault his team's efforts in Glendale and was impressed with the improvement he saw from the first game they played on the road trip, the 5-3 loss in Anaheim on Tuesday.

"We didn't give much offensively. I felt that the time that we spent in our zone was very minimal. We had good transition. We had good forecheck in their zone," he stated in his post-game media address.

"Obviously a loss is a loss but at the same time, I think that here's a game that was, by far, much better than our last outing. It's a good road game. We played smart. We played hard. We didn't give much. It's just the result, we wish that we could change it."

The Flames have the opportunity to build off of last night's positives this evening when they close out their three-game road trip in San Jose at 8:00 PM MT (CBC, FAN 960).

"We obviously have another big test with a good team," Russell said last night. "We'll see what we can do better from this, watch some game film, and take it into [tonight]."

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