Sometimes you get easy lessons or free lessons. Tonight, it’s a very expensive lesson but we’ll take it. - Bob Hartley
BUFFALO, NY -- The lesson wasn’t cheap in a 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Thursday, but it’ll be valuable to the Calgary Flames.
The Flames outshot the Buffalo Sabres 45-19 but fell for the third straight game.
“Sometimes you get easy lessons or free lessons,” Calgary coach Bob Hartley started. “Tonight, it’s a very expensive lesson but we’ll take it.”
The shots told one story. The score told another. The Flames outshot Buffalo. They couldn’t outscore them.
Coming off back-to-back losses, Calgary showed plenty of bounce back but miscues in the defensive end ended up being the difference.
The result? A third straight loss.
“We shot ourselves in the foot tonight,” captain Mark Giordano said. “I thought we played a good game but the times we did break down were easy goals for them. At the end of the day you cant give them those backdoor plays that we were giving them on their goals. Again, we did some good things. We’ve got to stick with skating and forechecking but we’ve got to try and eliminate some of these chances we’re giving them around our net.”
Twice through the opening 40 minutes the Flames trailed. Twice they pulled even.
Calgary pulled ahead in the third.
Joe Colborne shrugged off 6-foot-8, 224-pound defenceman Tyler Myers and drove around the back of the net before sending a cross-crease pass to Sean Monahan off the far post to put the Flames up 3-2 just 3:14 in. Monahan’s goal tied him for the team lead with Jiri Hudler at 11.
It was Colborne’s first game after missing 18 games with a wrist injury. At the time, he was among the league leaders in assists.
The goal came before Buffalo could manage their first shot on net in the frame. It came off the stick of Zemgus Girgensons, the NHL All-Star Game’s leading vote getter, at 7:59 and found its way behind Karri Ramo to tie the game at three.
With his second of the night, Matt Moulson put the Sabres ahead with the eventual game-winner on a cross-ice, backdoor feed from Tyler Ennis. Moulson was tucked in behind the Calgary defence when he received the pass, which skipped off his skate and by Ramo.
“We’ve got to get back to playing on the right side of pucks and cleaning it up in our own zone," Giordano said. "Four goals now two nights in a row…I know they got some empty netters the other night. We seem to play a good game but we killed ourselves with those goals we gave up tonight.”
There isn’t time to get down. The Flames suit up Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins before visiting the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday to wrap up a four-game tour away from Scotiabank Saddledome.
And despite losing three straight, there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic.
“We have to turn the page,” Hartley said. “We’re not going to live with that defeat. We always talk about our character in wins. Well, we’re going to talk about our character after games like tonight. We have no choice. There’s still lots of hockey to be played. I love my situation.”
“If someone would tell me at training camp we’re not going to play any games, we’re not going to have any training camp and we’re going to start around Dec. 15 and that’s going to be your situation. You take it. I’m going to tell you right now we wouldn’t have had any training camps since the start. We would’ve waited.
“That’s where we start. We lost the last three. We’re 0-2 in our seven-game segment. Tomorrow night lets bounce back.”