VANCOUVER -- Five Takeaways from the Calgary-Vancouver game January 5, 2010 at Rogers Arena.
The Calgary Flames did not have much offensive luck on Wednesday.
While outplaying the Vancouver Canucks for portions of the the game, they were unable to bury the chances they created and bowed 3-1 to the Vancouver Canucks, winners of seven straight.
The Flames played a decent game defensively but it seemed whenever they made a mistake, the Canucks capitalized. Case in point: after two periods of play the Flames had doubled the Canucks in shots by a margin of 26-12 yet trailed 3-0. At the end of the game, the Flames had put 44 shots on the Canucks net.
This was not goalie Miikka Kiprusoff's night. First the Canucks scored on the first shot of the game -- something that was not all Kiprusoff's fault.
In the second period Kiprusoff's luck was even worse. He got caught out of his net in a bizarre sequence and lost his stick. Jarome Iginla blocked a shot to save what would have been a sure goal into an empty net and the play moved up ice. However, it turned back into the Flames zone too quickly for Kiprusoff to get his stick back. Kevin Bieksa , seeing the opportunity, quickly got a point shot toward the net where is was tipped by Daniel Sedin to put the Canucks up 3-0.
The shots on net at the time were 22-12 for the Flames. It was just that kind of night.
The Flames start to the game wasn't as planned. After a defensive breakdown allowed the Canucks to score on their first shot of the game -- Ryan Kesler tipping home his 20th of the season -- just under a minute and a half into the game. Calgary settled into their game shortly after -- they recorded the next five shots on net.
But the Canucks are an opportunistic team and when Kevin Bieksa scored with a little under four minutes remaining in the period it put the Flames in a hole that was too hard to dig out of. The Canucks entered the game with a 21-1-2 record when scoring first and an 18-1-0 record when they led after one period.
Have to give the Flames some credit, though. They kept coming -- Jarome Iginla almost stuffing a rebound past Roberto Luongo shortly after the Bieksa goal.
At the end of the first period, despite trailing 2-0, the Flames had outshot the Canucks 12-7. Probably outchanced them too -- but just didn't get anything by Luongo.
Speaking of Roberto Luongo, the Canuck goalie might want to take up acting when his hockey career is over. He can make a love tap look like a Mike Tyson roundhouse punch. In the first period he was shoved in his crease by David Moss. He fell back into his net as though he was seriously hurt (perhaps a smart play as he did get a whistle to stop play with the Flames cycling behind the net).
He wasn't seriously hurt and there was no penalty on the play despite Luongo's best efforts.
Mikael Backlund had been a healthy scratch for six games prior to being sent down to the Flames top farm club, the Abbotsford Heat, to get some playing time. The Heat are on an extended homestand and Backlund was to play three or four games with them before joining the big team this coming weekend. That lasted one game before head coach Brent Sutter and acting GM Jay Feaster decided to bring him back up. Backlund made the one-hour trek in from Abbotsford Tuesday night and dressed against the Canucks on Wednesday. Obviously happy to be back with Calgary, Backlund had some jump and speed. On his first shift of the game he had two shots on net off two rushes and won a draw. A good start.
He got a mixed bag for linemates. He was with Ales Kotalik and Matt Stajan to start the game and then saw some time with Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos as David Moss shifted to another line. Breaking up that fourth line, which had been energy-plus lately, seemed an odd move but was likely done to spark Brendan Morrison and Rene Bourque with Moss as the catalyst.
Tim Jackman keeps getting things done for the Flames. He comes to every game with his work boots on and makes the most of his ice time. Tonight, Jackman broke Luongo's shoutout bid with just 10.6 seconds left on the clock. He also has a nifty five game point-streak going.
This is about to get any easier for the Flames. After facing Vancouver, the No. 1 team in the NHL, Wednesday, they return to Calgary to face the Detroit Red Wings, the No. 2 team in the league. The Red Wings represent the highest scoring team in the league, even though Pavel Datsyuk is injured.
Did someone say there are no easy points in the Western Conference?