CALGARY, AB – It was the opening 20 minutes the Calgary Flames were seeking to kick off the 2013 Season for the 19,289 fans in attendance at Scotiabank Saddledome.
They’ll look to improve on their final 40.
Firing 16 shots on San Jose Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi, the Flames dominated the visiting Sharks at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the opening 20 minutes, leaving the frame with a 1-0 advantage after Lee Stempniak’s power play marker 12:21 into the game.
But the lead was short-lived after allowing three goals in a 4:18 span – including two off the stick of Patrick Marleau – in the second period.
“We had our chances and Niemi played well,” Stempniak said. “We hit a post early on. Those are all things that I think contributed but for us, we stopped skating and things sort of fell apart. To me that’s the issue.”
Despite a flurry of shots to start the third period, the Flames couldn’t beat Niemi, who kicked aside 12 in the final frame and 31 of 32 on the night.
Calgary allowed another with just 60 seconds remaining in the game, eventually falling 4-1 in their season opener.
SAVE OF THE GAME
With a delayed penalty coming up to Matt Stajan, Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff made a sprawling pad save off a Joe Thornton set up with just 3:47 remaining in the game to temporarily keep the game at 3-1.
HIT OF THE GAME
Rough-and-tumble defenceman Cory Sarich welcomed home Calgary product TJ Galiardi in the third period with a tough check at the blueline, leaving the former Calgary Hitmen sprawled on the ice.
GOAL OF THE GAME
After Mikael Backlund’s second-effort to keep the play alive in the offensive zone on the power play, Jay Bouwmeester fed Lee Stepniak coming off the wall. Stempniak corralled the puck, skated to the top of the faceoff circle and fired a shot over the glove of Antti Niemi for Calgary’s first goal of the season.
With the game tied, San Jose forward Martin Havlat banged home a rebound to the left of Miikka Kiprusoff with 4:05 remaining in the second period to put the Sharks up 2-1, a lead they never relinquished.
Defenceman TJ Brodie and forward Blair Jones were the healthy scratches for the Flames. Center Roman Cervenka and Anton Babchuk missed the game due to injury while Jiri Hudler remains on bereavement leave. Steve Begin, playing in his first NHL game since since a two-game stint in the 2010-11 season, left the game briefly in the second period but returned in the third.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“You learn from your mistakes. You learn from what you did well too. You leave that game behind and look forward to the next game and focus on that. That’s what we’re going to have to be good at this year because it’s a lot of games and a tight schedule. We have to really learn to forget about last game and move forward to the next one.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Calgary managed 14 even-strength shots on goal in the first period and one each on the power play and penalty kill. Calgary’s lone shot with the man-advantage off the stick of Lee Stempniak, found the back of the net.
The Flames get right back at it Monday night when they host the Anaheim Ducks at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Ducks are coming off an impressive 7-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Saturday, with 42-year-old Teemu Selanne pacing the club with four points.