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No time for Flames to dwell on Game 1 with big second tilt in Anaheim looming

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

ANAHEIM - Good Friday was spent reflecting on Bad Moments Thursday.

Bad penalties.

Bad line changes.

Not a bad performance to open this high-octane playoff series. Not remotely.

But enough bad decisions to insidiously undermine the good at this most unforgiving time of year.

"Obviously it sucks losing,'' said Flames centre Sean Monahan, "but you've got to put that behind you, regroup and get the energy back for Game 2."

An old bugaboo, penalties, a demon the Flames faced and conquered in the early stages of the regular season, paid a return visit as the curtain raised on the post-season.

Three tripping calls put the Anaheim Ducks on the powerplay Thursday. So did one each for holding, slashing, goaltender interference and cross-checking.

"You take a penalty early and what happens is the top guys from the other team, they score early, and get excited early, too,'' said coach Glen Gulutzan. 

"Playing with the puck, creating chances. They score a goal and now they're into it."

That early call, a tripping penalty to Dougie Hamilton on Andrew Cogliano, arrived only 47 ticks into the game and led to a Ryan Getzlaf snipe.

"We definitely got to fix it against these guys,'' acknowledged Flames defenceman Deryk Engelland of the seven Anaheim Ducks' man-advantage opportunities. "Their powerplay's been good for years.

"We've got to tighten that up. There's a lot of stick infractions and stuff like that where we don't have to take those penalties. They made us pay. Two powerplay goals.

"We're up 2-1 and a bad line change kinda gave them some momentum, we took a couple penalties right after that in the second and gave them life."

Understanding the stakes, both teams held the testosterone-enflamed extracurricular shenanigans - such a talking point heading into the series - to a minimum.

There was only one retaliation penalty by the Flames but it proved costly in its way. Hamilton - with his uncharacteristic third minor the evening - reacted to a sinus-opening shoulder check by Getzlaf on Mark Giordano by snapping his twig, full-on cross-check style, over the Ducks' talismanic skipper.

Now no one enjoys seeing his captain rocked in that manner, especially with possible retribution for Giordano's awkward knee-on-knee hit that eliminated Cam Fowler from this series still incubating in everyone's minds (although Getzlaf protested afterwards that Giordano "was just the guy that had the puck").

"You could see it on his face after the game,'' said goaltender Brian Elliott of Hamilton. "He wasn't happy taking those penalties. No one would be. But that's the job of the rest of the guys - kill them off and go from there."

Anaheim's powerplay failed to score on that particular chance but the timing of the two-minute sentence, Calgary desperately needing an offensive push down a goal and less than six minutes to go, left something to be desired.

Take a number and a rain check. Don't take an unnecessary minor that kills precious time off the clock.

"Dougie's played in the playoffs before,'' said Versteeg. "He's a huge part of this team. Guys have ups and downs, man. It's a wave of momentum.

"He's a guy who wants to be good every night and we know how great he can be. He's a horse out there.

"He knows what he can do. He's a special player, a special talent.

"We expect a lot from him next game."

When taking the temperature of his team the morning after a frustrating loss, Gulutzan seemed impressed.

"The good thing this morning, I didn't sense a lot of frustration in our group. We didn't get the result we wanted. Before the series started, we talked about having to move by was and losses. Kris Versteeg talked a lot about momentum and moving past things quickly."

Playoffs being no time for reflection or self-recrimination.

"You gotta put Game 1 behind you,'' emphasized Monahan, one of the Flames' two goal scorers in the opener. "It's a series so we've got to regroup Saturday.

"We were in that game. We made some costly mistakes and they came back to bite us.

"We've gotta stay more disciplined. It can get painful when you're in the box all game and it takes some guys out of the games.

"We've gotta be a lot smarter about that. Seven's way too many."


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