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CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

Flames slug it out with Blues but fall in shootout

by TY PILSON @typilson / calgaryflames.com

Nothing like going toe-to-toe with the Champs.

The full 12 rounds - and some extra time.

Trade blows, battle back-and-forth, putting them on the ropes a few times, and never giving up.

Solid way to set the tone when you return from a long bye week/all-star break for your final 32 games down the stretch, locked in a heated playoff battle in a tight conference and looking to get some momentum right off the hop.

The Flames fell 5-4 in a shootout to the visiting St. Louis Blues at the Scotiabank Saddledome Tuesday night.

Sean Monahan scored a pair of powerplay markers to pace his club in the defeat.

The first goal was a milestone marker for him.

More on that later.

 

Video: Brendan Parker recaps the shootout loss to the Blues

 

Hitting the ice for the first time in 10 days (a 5-2 loss to the Senators in Ottawa on Jan. 18) following their bye week and all-star break, the Flames were looking to make a statement.

Against the defending Stanley Cup winners, no less. 

A team that came into the night tops in the Western Conference with 68 points.

A team that had beaten them twice this season: 3-2 in OT at the 'Dome on Nov. 9, and 5-0 in St. Louis on Nov. 21.

The Blues were also a team that had lost three straight and were no doubt plenty motivated to snap out of what was a bona fide funk for them.

The Flames got the first good chance in the game.

Andrew Mangiapane took a pass from Elias Lindholm but ran out of real estate as he skated across the crease, trying to go forehand-backhand but Jordan Binnington stayed with him to make a pad save up against his post.

Unfortunately for those aforementioned home fans, the Blues got the first goal.

On their first shot.

A turnover led to Robert Thomas whipping a laser of a pass across nearly the width of the Calgary zone, Alexander Steen tipping it home past Cam Talbot at full stride for his fifth of the year.

Matthew Tkachuk - in his first game back after helping the Pacific Division win the all-star game in his hometown of St. Louis - tied it up with a knuckleball of a slapshot that beat Binnington high, far-side on the powerplay. 

 

Video: STL@CGY: Tkachuk nets one-timer for PPG

 

Tkachuk, who was joined by Flames teammates Mark Giordano and David Rittich at the annual league showcase tilt, took a pass from Giordano up near the top of the faceoff dot and let it fly with 47 seconds left in the man-up chance.

Lindholm collected the other assist.

The Flames then took the lead with another powerplay marker.

In the latest installment of the Johnny and Mony Show, Johnny Gaudreau took a pass from Giordano near the outside of the right faceoff dot, quickly finding Monahan alone in the slot, the centre calmly turning and wiring the puck far side for his 15th just 10 clicks into the PP.

With the marker, Monahan - who was drafted sixth overall in 2013 - became the 14th player in Flames history to notch 400 career points with the club.

That put him six points away from catching Lanny McDonald for 13th on the all-time list.  

 

Video: STL@CGY: Monahan scores PPG for 400th NHL point

 

The Blues, however, knotted it up with 1:29 left in the first off a tally by David Perron.

They then took the lead again with a quick powerplay strike of their own just seven seconds into the man advantage, Jaden Schwartz scoring with 35 seconds left in the opening stanza.

Mangiapane almost tied it up with a sharp angle shot that Binnington got a piece of, the puck getting behind him but bouncing off the cross-bar.

No matter.

Monahan closed that gap further on Lanny with a powerplay goal 4:40 into the second period.

Gaudreau was again the setup man, Tkachuk getting the other helper.

 

Video: STL@CGY: Monahan snaps home second power-play goal

 

Not long after Blues centre Ryan O'Reilly rang one of the post off a nifty drop pass on a 3-on-2 rush, Gaudreau was sprung on a breakaway.

Buddy Robinson - Johnny's good friend who was called up Sunday from the Stockton Heat and got the nod Tuesday night to play in his eighth career NHL tilt - snapped a crisp pass to him as he took off out of the Calgary zone.

With back pressure coming, Gaudreau tried to go forehand-backhand and tuck it five-hole on Binnington, but he slammed the pads together as he slide across the crease.

Worth noting that Robinson had a big game with strong play throughout, so much so a 'Buddy, Buddy, Buddy' chant broke out in the third period after he laid a big hit.

But back to the scoring.

Mark Jankowski - who tallied his first of the season in that Jan. 18 loss - collected his second when he drove out front and took a pass from Sam Bennett behind the net and made no mistake with a shortside snipe.

Mikael Backlund also got a point on the play.

 

Video: STL@CGY: Bennett, Jankowski connect for goal

 

Gaudreau got his second breakaway chance of the game with 5:14 left in the second, this time sent in with a great outlet by Backlund, but Binnington got his blocker on the high far side offering to keep his side down by just one.

Less than a minute into the third, Mangiapane picked up the rebound of a TJ Brodie point shot and beat Binnington but not the post.

On the ensuing Blues rush, Zach Sanford scored.

It was all tied at four just 51 seconds into the final frame.

Monahan's hat-trick bid - off another pass from Gaudreau - was denied moments later when Binnington got his right pad out to make a stop.

Perron appeared to make it 5-4 Blues at 3:29 but Calgary challenged the play and upon review, the officials agreed it was offside, O'Reilly into the zone before the puck.

Monahan and Tkachuk were both stopped in the shootout after a lively OT frame, while Perron and O'Reilly scored.

 

THEY SAID IT:

 

CAM TALBOT ON HOW THE GAME PLAYED OUT:

"Tough start in the first. Thought I made a few good saves, but needed to come up with a couple more there in the first to keep it closer. I thought we did a good job in the second and I settled down, and thought I played a pretty good third, but obviously needed some saves in the shootout."

 

Video: "We got one big point but we needed the second."

 

BUDDY ROBINSON ON HIS STRONG NIGHT:

"Personally I felt good. It's disappointing not to get the two points. To come here, and in order to stick, you want to be part of a winning hockey team. So, obviously it's disappointing not to get the two points there. But, personally, I felt good, was able to get my feet moving. I just wanted to prove that I'm able to get in on the forecheck and be a factor at this level. To get a few extra shifts was pretty motivating to me and it's only going to drive me further at this level. I'm going to work even harder so I can make this is a full-time thing."

JOHNNY GAUDREAU ON ROBINSON'S PLAY:

"I thought he was great. I loved playing with him in the third. When I was chipping pucks in, he was all over the puck, getting pucks back. Had a chance to bury there in the third. He made a great play to me, too, in the second and I should have buried that. I thought he was great tonight."

 

Video: "I thought we did a lot of good things."

 

MATTHEW TKACHUK ON TURNING THE PAGE TO EDMONTON:

"Honestly - tonight, we've got to go over this this one. We've got to figure out what we can do better, and how we can go into Edmonton and win the game. But, honestly, I haven't really thought about what tomorrow is going to bring."

GEOFF WARD ON LINE JUGGLING:

"I liked the way they (Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Derek Ryan) started, for sure. I just felt like we wanted to get Derek back to centre and the way that Buddy Robinson was playing, we felt that we could move him into that role - and he did a great job."

WARD ON ROBINSON:

"I thought he was playing with a lot of energy. He was using his size well, was in on the forecheck. He sent Johnny in on the breakaway. He played well. ... He definitely earned the opportunity to move over there."

 

Read More in Say What - 'Stayed With it and Battled'

 

Video: "I thought we got good contributions..."

 

ONE-TIMERS:

The Flames now have a record of 14-13-3 against Western Conference opponents, and are 7-7-2 against the Central Division ...  Calgary has 31 games remaining this season, 17 at home and 14 on the road ... Lindholm is now eight assists away from 200 in his career, while Jankowski is eight games away from 200 ... There was a standing ovation 'moment of applause' before the game to honour former LA Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident on the weekend ... Hey folks, we're looking for a Flames TV Junior Reporter for our game on Feb. 17. Watch the video below for more info.

 

Video: We're looking for a junior Flames TV host

 

THE LINE-UP:

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Your @Schneiders starters vs. the Blues! pic.twitter.com/QE9eupYNDe

 

Trios and d-pairings to start the game:

FORWARDS

Andrew Mangiapane - Elias Lindholm - Matthew Tkachuk

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Derek Ryan

Sam Bennett - Mikael Backlund - Buddy Robinson

Milan Lucic - Mark Jankowski - Dillon Dube

DEFENCE

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson

GOALTENDER

Cam Talbot

 

UP NEXT:

The Flames enter their seventh back-to-back scenario of the season as they hopped a plane to Edmonton right after the game. They will face the Oilers Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Then it's another epic Saturday night installment of the Battle fo Alberta when those Oilers visit the Scotiabank Saddledome this weekend (click here for tickets).

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