I believe in this team. I believe we can get out of it. We can still salvage this road trip. - Kris Russell
NEWARK, NJ -- No, the Calgary Flames didn't get the win in New Jersey on Tuesday night but the 4-2 setback featured some strong play from the visitors.
They scored two power play goals, an area of their game that has been a struggle all season. Their penalty kill was rock solid, denying the Devils on both of their opportunities with the man advantage. They displayed the never-quit attitude in the third period, pressing mightily for the equalizer and outshooting New Jersey 11-4 in the final stanza.
All positives they can take into Thursday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
But for alternate captain Kris Russell, hanging on silver linings isn't enough anymore.
There is starting to be separation in the log-jammed Pacific Division and points are desperately needed for the team land in a playoff spot come April.
"It’s up to us now to start playing the full 60 and make sure we’re coming out with two points," he said on Tuesday night. "It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to compete at the start of the game.
"It’s time, we’ve got to start winning. We’ve already put ourselves in a little bit of a hole. I believe in this team. I believe we can get out of it. We can still salvage this road trip. There’s lots of hockey left but it comes to us proving it and wanting it. We’ve got to make sure the leadership group here makes sure the guys are ready and we’ll go after some points here."
All in all, the Flames played a decent road game in New Jersey. They outshot the Devils 28-26, won the battle in the face-off circle, and matched their opponents' pace throughout the course of the evening.
But the Devils two goals in span of 17 seconds early in the second period, coming off Lee Stempniak and Reid Boucher's sticks, made all the difference. Turnovers and mental lapses, according to David Jones, were the Flames downfall in Newark.
"It’s frustrating," Jones lamented. "We talk about having urgency every game. It just doesn’t seem like we have enough. I thought our start wasn’t too bad but the second period there, we come out and they score two goals in the first two shifts. That’s kind of the difference in the game.
"We made a push late but we’ve got to learn. We can’t play like that, from behind, all the time. It’s going to be a tough lesson."
The Flames had plenty of chances to bury a few goals against Cory Schneider. They hit posts. Their shots went wide. They whiffed on passes when they had the goaltender out of position.
But they were unable to capitalize. If they are going to make a surge up the standings, they will need to be able cash in on these chances and makes sure they are opportunistic on a nightly basis.
"Sometimes it’s all about taking advantage of your opportunities," head coach Bob Hartley said. "We had a few and we few good ones. Look at our first shift in the second period. We could have easily scored and suddenly we ice the puck and they score one, they score two. After this, we had to play catch-up hockey."
Now, the focus shifts to the rest of their road swing. They face the Blue Jackets on Thursday, the Hurricanes on Sunday, and close out the trip with a stop in Dallas on Monday. Six crucial points are on the table.
"We’ve got to get points or we’re going to fall out of this thing now," Mark Giordano stated. "We still have three games on this trip and we’ve got to get almost all of them now."