ANAHEIM, CA -- Improvements were made. Strides taken.
But overall, the Calgary Flames weren’t improved enough to earn the split against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round series at Honda Center on Sunday.
In those strides, though, Flames coach Bob Hartley suggested there are reasons to draw positives as the series shifts back to Calgary.
“We knew it wouldn’t be easy. They’re a top team in our conference,” Hartley said. “They’re solid top to bottom in that lineup. They have great experience, great size, great skill. Now we’re going home. We can’t draw any confidence from the results but I think that we can certainly draw confidence from the last 30 minutes. In front of our fans, we know how crazy it is at Scotiabank Saddledome so it’s going to be great.
“Lets try to win the first one and then we’ll see where we’re at. I’ve been down lots of times by two games. We found ways to come back. Here’s the same challenge.”
The second game of the series started out much like the first, a 6-1 rout on Thursday.
The difference in Game 2, however, was starting goaltender Karri Ramo.
Facing an onslaught that featured 20 first period shots, Ramo showed but one blemish, on Matt Beleskey’s second of the playoffs at 7:27.
But after eking their way to the midway mark of the game still within a goal, a switch flipped for the Flames, who returned to a much more traditional style.
And in that pushback comes the positives.
“We started playing our game in the second half,” forward Joe Colborne said. “Probably the last 30 minutes, that was some Flames hockey. Give them credit. Their goalie made some huge saves but we started generating chances, we started controlling the play a little more, spending shifts in their zone, which is nice. There’s some positives we can take out of that. We take care of our business at home and we’re coming back here for Game 5. That’s how we have to look at it.”
Despite a slumpish start to the second, Calgary outshot the Ducks 12-9. It’s the first frame of the set that the Flames were able to dump more pucks than absorb.
Speed increased. Zone-time increased.
“The last two periods I felt like we put more of the way that we played at home against Vancouver,” defenceman TJ Brodie said. “We got pucks in deep, got on pucks. We played in their end. We definitely played better than we did last game. I think we can even still be better and get more shots, more chances. I think one of the things we had to do was use our speed and start getting bodies to the net.”
It has spurred confidence heading home, a building they’ve found plenty of success in.
“I think in Game 1 there, I don’t think there were any moments we thought we were outplaying them and I thought tonight the second half of the game was pretty positive,” forward David Jones said. “We’re down 2-0. We have a big hill to climb, but we’ve just got to take some positives and keep our heads up going home now to try to get that next one.”
The Flames have yet to lose at Scotiabank Saddledome in the playoffs, winning all three games against the Vancouver Canucks in a six-game series win in round one.
And, as Jones suggested, you’re not in trouble until you lose one on your own ice.
“That’s the way we’re going to look at it,” he said. “It would’ve been nice to pick up one here. We’re going to have to win here eventually but going home in front of our fans, I think we’ve just got to worry about Game 3. We’ll get a ‘W’ there and hopefully we can carry some momentum into Game 4.
“We’re in a hole and we’re going home now and we can’t lose at home. We’ve got to try our best to get Game 3 and see what happens.”
Because there’s comfort at home.
“We have a pretty special thing going there with our fans and got an excited city behind us,” Colborne said. “We’re going to be ready for Game 3.”