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Flames focused on building on positives in tight loss to Avs

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

There is, experience has taught each and every one of them the hard way, no magic elixir.

No over-the-counter cure-all medicine.

No surefire, money-back-guarantee mail-order fix.

"It really is a Quicksand Effect," reasoned Milan Lucic. "Seems the harder you try, the more you struggle, the deeper your frustration, the more you sink.

"Yeah, you've gotta play hard. But once you stop gripping the stick so tight, trying to force things, once you relax a bit and just … play, that's when you get out of these.

"Every team goes through rough patches during any year you can name. We've all experienced them.

"For us, it's happening now.

"But we're going to get out of this thing. Soon. We're working our way through it. The effort's there."


Video: "Effort's there ... just fine tune some things"


A furious finish Tuesday versus the trending-upwards Colorado Avalanche fell just short at the Scotiabank Saddledome. And no, there is no such thing as a moral victory in the hothouse world of professional sport.


"All we can do right now is use it as a building block,'' reckoned centre Derek Ryan, following the 3-2 loss. "Use it as a way to when you come out the other side we're a tighter group.

"We know we can get through some adversity.

"I think last regular season maybe you could say we didn't go through enough adversity so maybe you talk about this being a good adversity point for us to build on; realize it's not going to come easy.

"Expectations are higher this year and we have that in the dressing room, as well."

The frenetic comeback ended only in the final seconds - with goaltender David Rittich on the bench and the locals trying to parlay a 6-on-4 man advantage into a dramatic trying goal - when Colorado defenceman Erik Johnsson dropped in front of an Elias Lindholm shot to send the Flames to a fourth consecutive setback.

Once again, trying to shimmy uphill on the scoreboard proved a daunting task.

"Before the game, there's a lot of energy in the dressing room, energy on the bench," explained Ryan. "Then we give up a couple goals and all of a sudden the body language kinda goes down a little bit. Guys are frustrated. Down on themselves, down on each other.

"Even through that, I think we stuck to it, created chances and you saw in the third we turned it up. Just gotta figure out how to get some leads and stop chasing the game.

"It's physically exhausting and mentally exhausting."


Video: "We gotta start scoring first goal in game"


So much that was good about the Flames on this night came courtesy of the Lucic-Ryan-Dillon Dube trio, generating 13 of Calgary's 33 aggregate shots as well as the lion's share of Grade-A chances.

"I think the last two games we've managed to find some immediate chemistry between the three of us,'' acknowledged Lucic. "Especially for myself, it's easy to get frustrated but you've just got to keep playing, keep being hard on the puck, keep making plays and you know it's just a matter of time before they start going in for you."

Ryan agreed that the three of them are collaborating well at the moment.

"I thought we were good in Vegas. I thought we were good in Arizona. Dillon got called up and he's playing well. He's getting chances, we're getting chances and not giving up too many."

Trailing by three, the man they call Doc pumped fresh belief into gnawing doubt, accepting a nifty little off-the-wall pass from Lucic and snapping his fourth goal of the season overtop of Philipp Grubaur's glove at 17:41 of the second period.

Then, closing in on 16 minutes of the third period, when Andrew Mangiapane swatted home an Oliver Kylington point shot that hit him in the mid-section and dropped down at his feet, the game, as Sherlock Holmes is want to say, was well and truly afoot.


Video: "There's adversity for sure"


"Twice now, the Ryan line's been real good,'' praised boss Bill Peters. "I thought Looch made a real good play on the wall on the first goal, hung onto it, made a good play into Doc and then Doc finished it off.

"Then Mangie with that net-front presence after a good release by Kyllie on his goal.

"It's a test. There's adversity, of sure. Adversity in that we haven't won recently. Adversity in that we've got some guys down. But that's everybody in the league. You're going to hit it at some point where you're banged up, lots of injuries. Nobody feels sorry for you when it happens.

"That all equals out. How you handle it when you're going through it is the important thing; how long you stay in.

"We've got to come out of this quick."

As quick as Thursday in St. Louis versus the reigning Stanley Cup champs being preferable.

"There are a lot of positives you can take out of this game and carry over into a very important road trip,'' said Lucic. "I think you saw signs of that in the second half tonight, when we started to push, to play the way we're supposed to.

"And once we do work our way through this, we need to hold onto that feeling and get it rolling in the other direction."

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