CALGARY, AB -- Timing, it's often said, is everything.
Another case in point - Saturday night's 4-1 Calgary Flames' loss to the NY Rangers.
Example 1: With a minute remaining in an even first period that nevertheless found the locals trailing 2-0, the puck is out-letted smartly setting up a breakaway.
Off to the races: The one individual you'd hand-pick for just such a potential momentum-switching moment.
Sailing in alone. One-on-one. In his wheelhouse.
But New York Rangers' goaltender Henrik Lundqvist simply refuses to flinch, staring down Calgary's most potent offensive weapon, swatting down the shot as Gaudreau attempted to go long-side.
Example 2: Down the same score, in search of an elusive goal to ignite a renaissance and thrust them right back into contention, Calgary -- aided by a Rangers' broken stick, effectively taking the visitors down to five skaters -- exerts sustained, almost claustrophobic pressure inside the New York zone.
Instead of shaving the deficit to 2-1, though, the deficit actually deepens to 3-0 as the play finally flip-flops into the Flames' end.
"Obviously, it was a tough game for us," admitted Flames' captain Mark Giordano. "It's not the start we wanted. We turned over puck a bunch of times, I felt, early on. Then we cleaned that up.
"We were down in the game and I thought we had some good momentum shifts and then the momentum got killed the next shift and they scored a couple of goals in the second."
Rangers' left winger Jimmy Vesey creeps behind rookie D-man Brett Kulak to coax a crisp, on-the-tape Ryan McDonagh pass through the wickets of Calgary goaltender Brian Elliott.
By the second intermission, Rangers' left winger Pavel Buchnevich had increased the lead to four.
"They're a team that we knew had a lot of speed and a lot of firepower up front and we weren't hard enough on them," Giordano said. "They made us pay."
Calgary's lone goal arrived at 11:32 of the third, via the powerplay, defenceman TJ Brodie spinning away from cover to feather a backhand pass through the blue paint that Micheal Ferland was on hand to convert.
Video: NYR@CGY: Ferland tips Brodie's pass into the net
The goal was the Flames' first on home ice this season with the man-advantage and ended 0-for-27 run. It also put the brakes on a seven-game outage.
The Flames have now dropped six of their past seven starts.
"New York is a really good club; we didn't play near the game we needed to play," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said in his post-game media address. "That is on the coaching staff, that is on myself. We need to take a look at it and try to just build. It is hard to find positives in these times especially when you're at home and losing like this.
"When you lose three in a row you need to find something else. We made a few lineup changes and we will look at those things. We are a point where we can't just keep doing the same thing over and over. We need to find guys who want to step up and play and we will play those guys."
Lundqvist produced 35 saves as New York, duelling with the Pittsburgh Penguins for top spot in the Metropolitan Division, improved to 11-4.
A strong opening first-period push from Calgary was compromised when the Rangers jumped in front 1-0 at 6:32, Elliott beaten on the short side by right winger Michael Grabner.
It's a shot the Flames' goaltender doubtless wished he had back.
"You want every goal back, you don't want to give up anything," said Elliott. "That time of the game when we are trying to get into it and find our stride it can't happen.
"We had pressure coming on basically a two-on-one and he made a shot that kind of looked like he missed it a little bit.
"It's very frustrating but we have to bounce back from those and I have to start better, obviously."
New York's advantage doubled that advantage five minutes and change later, centre Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan catching the Flames puck-watching to execute a nifty two-way interplay, Stepan finishing off at 11:59.
NOTES: The Flames recalled forward Garnet Hathaway from Stockton of the AHL on Saturday -- he was a healthy scratch ... Forwards Lance Bouma (upper-body) and Kris Versteeg (groin) and Matthew Tkachuk (wrist) each missed the game because of injury ... Defencemen Jyrki Jokipakka.
UP NEXT: The Flames will travel to Minnesota to battle the Wild on Tuesday (6 p.m. MT; SNW, SN960).