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HOLIDAY BRAKE

Talbot stands tall, but offence runs dry in 3-0 loss to Wild

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

The goal was to finish off on a high note.

To enter the holiday break - and the promise of that delectable, dressed turkey, cranberry cocktail and endless, chocolatey offerings - feeling good about themselves.

But with an ornery opponent staring them down on the other side, along with the tight turnaround from playing less than 24 hours ago, it was no small task.

In the end, it went down as a 3-0 Flames loss, dropping their record to 19-15-5 on the year.

 

Video: Alanna Nolan recaps a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

 

Cam Talbot had an excellent night between the pipes, making 31 saves in a losing cause.

Talbot was easily the best Flame in the game's early going, especially, turning aside all 10 shots he faced in the opening frame, including a ridiculous, point-blank stop off Luke Kunin near the midway mark.

With Nico Sturm forcing a turnover on the forecheck, Jordan Greenway gathered up the loose puck and centered a pass to Kunin between the hash marks. Talbot, though, sprang to his feet, dug in at the top of the blue paint and rejected the forward's five-home attempt with a strong stick save.

The Flames had the only powerplay of the period, but after going 3-for-5 in Sunday's win over the Dallas Stars, the PP struggled to gain traction and failed to generate a scoring chance.

The Wild opened the scoring at 4:51 of the second period, as the Flames got caught chasing the puck carrier, leaving a man uncovered in the slot. Ryan Donato made a slick centering feed, and the recipient - Joel Eriksson Ek - made no mistake on the one-timer, slamming it past Talbot.

The homeside opened up a two-goal edge at 9:49, as Kunin got his revenge and buried his ninth of the season to cap a nifty bit of puck movement by Minnesota's third line.

Again, it was Greenway and Sturm that made the whole thing possible with a beastly burst on the forecheck. Eventually, after working a clinical, left-to-right give-and-go, the former delivered a pass from below the goal line, allowing Kunin to step into the one-timer and beat Talbot - who had no chance on the play - clean on the far side.

The Flames thought they made it a one-goal game with 6:01 to play as Derek Ryan shoveled the puck home on a goalmouth scramble, but the play was reviewed and after a quick look-see, it was determined that Ryan kicked the puck into the net.

The Flames orchestrated a solid, third-period push, but it wasn't to be.

Eric Staal bounced one into the empty net with 2:43 to play to seal the outcome.

 

Video: CGY Recap: Flames stymied by Dubnyk and Wild

 

THEY SAID IT:

MARK GIORDANO ON WHAT WENT WRONG:

"It was a tough game. Obviously, we knew that they were going to come out with a good effort after they lost a big one the other night. They really grinded and worked hard on the back-check and didn't give up much. The first goal was important tonight, they got it, and I thought that was the difference."

GIORDANO ON THE MINNESOTA GOALS:

"Our first was OK. But for whatever reason, we were giving up some slot chances tonight that we don't (normally). That was the difference tonight. Their two goals tonight were off similar plays and we couldn't generate much offence."

TALBOT ON WHAT THE WILD DID WELL:

"They're a very structured team. They work hard at both ends of the ice, they're good in front of their own net, and in front of ours in the offensive zone. Everyone plays back-to-backs - you've got to sometimes manage yourself out there if you're not feeling it and try to make the easy play or the smart play and get it deep. I thought we turned too many pucks over at their blueline and gave them too many opportunities to come back at us. Maybe that's just trying to make some plays that maybe weren't there tonight."

COACH WARD'S OVERALL ASSESSMENT:

"I thought we had a pretty good start. We knew they were going to come hard with a push, based on what happened to them, being at home and having a bit of rest. We thought they'd come out hard - and they did. I thought we got through that OK. We were pleased with our first period. We came out of there pretty much even in chances and we just gave up a few too many slot chances in the second. We tried to fight our way back in the third, and it's unfortunate that the (Ryan) goal wasn't allowed. But at the end of the day, I wasn't disappointed with our start. We just had a few things that we have to clean up in our own slot. That gives us an opportunity to stay in the hockey game a little bit longer and have an opportunity to potentially come out even at the end of the second period."

WARD ON THE CHRISTMAS BREAK:

"We can be happy with some of the ground that we've made up from where we were 11 or 12 games ago, but at the same time, we can't be satisfied. We've got to make sure we come back in after the game focused. We've got a big, four-game point with Edmonton after the break as soon as we get back. We can take a few days and enjoy it with our families, but we've got to remember what's at stake when we come back from the holiday."

 

Video: "We've got to come back from the break focused."

 

ONE-TIMERS:

Matthew Tkachuk had his four-game road point streak end today. The streak began back on Nov. 25 and since then, he had eight points (3G, 5A) to give him 32 points (14G, 18A) on the year. … The Flames wrapped up their sixth back-to-back set of the season today. With the loss, their record falls to 2-4-0 in the second game in that scenario. The next back-to-back set won't come until the end of January, 2020, when they play at home against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 28 before heading up to Edmonton the very night.

 

THE LINEUP:

Here are the forward lines, D pairings and goalie to start the game:

 

FORWARDS

Matthew Tkachuk - Elias Lindholm - Andrew Mangiapane
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Mikael Backlund
Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Dillon Dube
Zac Rinaldo - Tobias Rieder - Sam Bennett

 

DEFENCE

Mark Giordano - Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
TJ Brodie - Michael Stone

 

GOALTENDER

Cam Talbot

 

Scratched: Mark Jankowski, Michael Frolik, Oliver Kylington

 

UP NEXT:

The Flames will now break for the holidays, but will return to the ice on Friday, Dec. 27, for one of the most highly anticipated Battle of Albertas in recent memory. The Flames then return to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday, Dec. 29, as they host the Vancouver Canucks to begin a three-game homestand (click here for tickets). It also happens to be Jarome Iginla Bobblehead Night! Be one of the first 3,500 fans in the building and you'll receive a complimentary Iggy bobblehead.

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