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Frustration mounts for Flames after loss to Rangers

Calgary suffered a fourth straight loss on Saturday to the Rangers

by George Johnson @GeorgejohnsonCH / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY, AB -- Down 2-0 late in an even opening period. The JumboTron score clock ticking inexorably towards the one-minute mark and intermission.

And suddenly, out of the darkness, the dark, scrappy clouds that have bunkered in at the Scotiabank Saddledome lately part and the horizon turns a bright blue.

However momentarily.

A New York Ranger turnover. An outlet pass. A breakaway.

And latching onto the puck, the one player you'd hand-pick for such an occasion.

Johnny Gaudreau.

 

But goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the uncrowned Swedish King of Broadway, simply refuses to flinch, staring down Calgary's most potent offensive weapon, swatting down the shot with his glove as one of the game's most deadly one-on-one finishers attempts to go long-side.

"That's just the way it's going right now,'' sighed captain Mark Giordano "For everybody in here.

"It's hard for us to find momentum.

"And when we do, when we seem to be on the verge of getting that important goal or getting a hold of a game, something goes wrong and we lose that momentum again.

 "I thought it happened a couple times tonight."

Once again, a sprinkling of good things. Positive moments.

But bits and pieces, dibs and dabs, isn't cutting it. A 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday has only deepened the current malaise down at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"Ever since the start of the year, giving up that many goals, losing … you're turning the puck over, trying to make plays, you stop playing the way you've always played and the way that's made you successful,'' sighed defenceman TJ Brodie, who arranged Calgary's lone tally, from Micheal Ferland, 11:12 into the third period.

"We've got to find a way to get things back on track and get some momentum.

"If we play one good game, we've got to follow it up with another one. So far, we've played good games but then we take a step backwards."

Via the aforementioned Ferland, the Flames finally connected for a home powerplay goal, ending an 0-for-27 struggle and putting the brakes on a seven-game overall outage.

 Still, small solace in absorbing a sixth loss over the most recent seven games.

"Everybody in here,'' said goaltender Brian Elliott, "is a good hockey player.

"It's about coming together as a team and not getting down. the key to confidence is keeping each other the things don't go your way.

"Keep pushing, keep pushing. Don't give up. I think we saw a little bit of that shine through in the third period."

Video: Flames coach addressed the media after the 4-1 loss

A strong opening push from the Flames was compromised when the Rangers jumped in front 1-0 at 6:32 of the third, Elliott beaten on the short side by right winger Michael Grabner.

It's a shot the Flames' goaltender doubtless wished he had back.

New York's advantage doubled 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.

From then on Calgary found itself facing another difficult uphill climb. And when Rangers' left winger Jimmy Vesey crept behind rookie D-man Brett Kulak to coax a crisp, on-the-tape Ryan McDonagh pass through the wickets of Elliott, only a shift or so after sustained Flames pressure had threatened to whittle the deficit in half.

"We've got to clean this up,'' muttered Giordano. "We're giving away easy goals. They're tap-ins. They're back-door open nets. We're not making teams work for those goals.

"Man, we've given up too many of them for a whole season. Already."

 By the second intermission, Rangers' left winger Pavel Buchnevich had increased the advantage to four.

"We're fragile right now,'' admitted coach Glen Gulutzan. "That's a really good club. And we didn't play near the game we needed to. That's on us. That's on the coaching staff, that's on myself.

"We just need to continue to build. Its hard to find positives in these times, especially when you're at home and losing like this.

"We have to keep trying to move our game forward. We have young players and we've got to keep making them better.

"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."

The Flames are now off game-wise until Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Centre in St. Paul against the Minnesota Wild.

"There are times,'' said Giordano, "when you've got to got to get on each other and get p--ed off.

"This is not one of those times.

"This is a time we need to stick together. We've got to hold each other accountable, play hard, play the right way, and we can't be dragging each other down.

"We need that win. But it's not going to come by cheating. It's not going to come by overdoing things. And we know it's not going to come easy.

"Because nothing is coming easy right now."

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