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Flames go down 3-0 early to visiting Canucks and unable to claw back

by TY PILSON @typilson /

It's never easy to play from behind. 

Especially if it's way behind.

The Flames found themselves down 3-0 Sunday night to the visiting Vancouver Canucks just past the midway point of the first period.

After that, it was all about playing catching up.

Trying to dig out of a very deep hole.

And in the NHL, that's an extremely tall order.

But they never gave up.

Never stopped pushing.

And created plenty of chances along the way.

However, they just couldn't get the goals they needed - couldn't convert on the opportunities they created.

Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin would score for the Flames as they fell 5-2 to their Pacific Divisional rivals.

Michael Frolik was sent off for tripping early in the first period and 1:35 into that man-advantage, Tyler Myers - who was born in Texas but spent many years playing minor hockey in Calgary - scored on a long-distance wrister from the left boards up near the blueline that found a hole far-side past David Rittich through a partial screen. 

It was his second goal of the season, coming at 3:29.

Mark Giordano snuck in from the point and stepped into a slapshot from the right faceoff dot minutes later, Thatcher Demko getting a piece of it but the puck trickling out put behind him and past the far post.

Demko got the start Sunday in place of Jacob Markstrom, who made a career-high 49 saves Saturday night in a 3-2 home win over the LA Kings.

Myers scored his second of the game at 6:40 with another shot from the point, this one from the right boards, that took a weird deflection off Rittich and went through his five-hole.

The Canucks then made it 3-0 with Matthew Tkachuk in the box for interference.

Myers passed the puck to former Hitmen star Jake Virtanen, who wired a slapshot off the post. 

A few moments later, though, he scored.

That spelt the end of Rittich's night, as he left the game after allowing those three goals on seven shots.

Rittich had stopped all 34 Vancouver shots he faced back on Oct. 5 in the Flames home-opener, picking up his second career shutout in a 3-0 win.

Cam Talbot stepped between the pipes in his 300th career game.

The homeside came out in the second period like gangbusters, creating two great chances in the first minute of play.

Just 15 seconds in, Mikael Backlund slung a puck at the net from the low boards that Sean Monahan got a stick on to tip, but Demko was in position to catch it with his glove.

Thirty seconds after that, Monahan fed a pass cross-ice on a rush to Johnny Gaudreau, whose shot on the fly missed the net.

The ongoing pressure led to Alexander Edler being whistled for hooking on Andrew Mangiapane beside the Vancouver cage during a battle for a loose puck at 1:18.

Calgary kept it up on the PP, with a quick three-way passing play from Gaudreau to Elias Lindholm to Monahan, the latter looking like he got a piece of the post on his shot.

Back at even strength, J.T. Miller got around TJ Brodie with a great one-on-one move but then shovelled the puck wide as he tried to push it back to the open short-side as he skated across the crease.

The Flames created another chance on a 3-on-1 rush, Tkachuk just missing the net with his attempt from the wing after a quick pass-back from Giordano.

The Flames came into the night with the league's second best penalty-kill, clicking along at an 85% efficiency. 

It was put to the test.

And it came through with an A+.

First they had to kill off a Tkachuk tripping call on Elias Pettersson, and then just 10 seconds after that minor ended, Andersson was sent to the box for a trip on Tim Schaller.

During that penalty, Travis Hamonic's rink-long clearing attempt went over the glass at the other end 59 seconds in, giving the Canucks a two-man advantage for 1:01.

While still on the kill, Andersson and Backlund ended up on a 2-on-1, Andersson feathering a deft pass to Backlund who ran out of room to shoot at the side of the net and tried to pass it back into the slot but no one was there to receive it. 

Andersson finally solved Demko with 1:24 left in the second period, picking up the rebound of a Monahan shot at full stride and then going forehand, backhand for paydirt.

It was his third of the season, Tkachuk getting the other helper.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: Beauty.#VANvsCGY | #Flames


Tanner Pearson restored a three-goal cushion when he spun and beat Talbot with a shot 6:43 into the third.

Hanifin would tally his fourth with 58 seconds to play, Lindholm and Tkachuk getting the assists.

The Canucks would add an empty-netter.


Video: VAN@CGY: Hanifin buries late goal in the 3rd period




"Well, we sure didn't get out to the start we wanted. We got behind early in the hockey game and then we chased it the rest of the night. So, for whatever reason, they were more prepared to start than we were. We knew they were a good first-period team, they have been all year. We just didn't come out with the start we needed. I thought we got outworked early, we got outexecuted early and then we found ourselves in a hole and then you start chasing the game and that's exactly what we did."



"Cam came in and did a good job for us. And I felt like we came back and got some chances. Like we had some real good chances, some good looks to make that game tighter earlier and we just didn't hit the net. You know, we had four looks there that we blew the puck right by the net on some Grade-A chances. We had some opportunities to claw our way back in, unfortunately for us we didn't make them happen."



"I thought the first period we got dominated the whole period. We looked like the team that was maybe playing on the back-to-back. I thought the second, you know, I thought we did some good things in the second and were able to get one before the third. That 4-1 with 10 minutes left kind of hurt a bit but, I think tonight our powerplay wasn't good enough ... we weren't clicking on that tonight."


Video: "I thought the first period we got dominated"



"It started with, you know, they got an early powerplay goal, it's not the end of the world. And then they get two and then I take a penalty and they make it 3-0. When it's 3-0 halfway through the first period, that's tough. It's not the start you draw up there."



"We put them on the powerplay too much. That wasn't necesarrily the game plan going in. They're a good powerplay. We wanted to stay disciplined and it just didn't happen tonight. That's all there was to it, I guess."


Video: "Three nothing, hard. Not much I can say"



The legend himself, Miikka Kiprusoff, was in the house Sunday. There was a tribute video played on the jumbotron during a stoppage in play highlighting a bevy of his best saves. When the cameras zoomed in on the owner's box and he was shown standing and waving, the crowd went absolutely berserk with a standing ovation followed by the familiar 'Kipper, Kipper' chant reverberating through the 'Dome. Check out the video below ... The Flames now have a record of 11-11-3 against Western Conference, and are record of 6-6-1 against the Pacific Division ... Milestone watch: Hanifin is one assist away from 100; Monahan is six points away from 400; and Lindholm is four points shy of 300, and four games away from 500.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: Kipper! Kipper! Kipper!We're so happy to have you back in the 'Dome ������




Tweet from @NHLFlames: Your starters vs. the Canucks!#VANvsCGY | #Flames | @Schneiders


The trios and D-pairings to start last night's tilt.


Matthew Tkachuk - Elias Lindholm - Andrew Mangiapane

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Mikael Backlund

Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Dillon Dube

Tobias Rieder - Mark Jankowski - Michael Frolik



Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson



David Rittich



Hard to beat ringing in the New Year at a Flames game! The Chicago Blackhawks come callin' on Dec. 31 at 7 p.m. (click here for tickets). Then it's the Rangers in town Thursday for a 7 p.m. tilt (click here for tickets), before the Flames head out on the road for a two-game set in Minnesota on Sunday and Chicago Tuesday.

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