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NEVER SAY DIE

Flames rally in the third from two-goal deficit to force OT, but fall to Blues in extra time

by TY PILSON @typilson / CalgaryFlames.com

Measuring-stick game.

Litmus test. 

Whatever you want to call it, the Flames viewed Saturday night's matchup with the visiting St. Louis Blues as an opportunity to see how they stacked up against one of the league's best.

Also to see how far their game has come this season.

 

Video: Brendan Parker recaps the OT setback to the Blues.

 

The Blues, of course, are the defending Stanley Cup champions.

They were last season's rags-to-riches story, going from worst to first in the course of the campaign.

They peaked in the playoffs, playing their best hockey in dominant fashion.

And this season they have picked up right where they left off.

No easy task.

Coming into the Hockey Night in Canada contest, the Blues were the top team in the Western Conference, sporting a shiny 11-3-3 record. They were riding a six-game winning streak and were 8-2 in their last 10.

They play a heavy, hard-hitting style of game, using an aggresive forecheck to try and control play.

The Flames stayed with them, had plenty of chances, played well defensively and got great goaltending from David Rittich but with time winding down in the third and trailing 2-0, things didn't look good.

Cue the Comeback Kids.

Matthew Tkachuk and Travis Hamonic scored in the final 10 minutes of the period to force extra time, but David Perron would score the dagger with a powerplay marker in OT.

Rittich finished with 25 saves.

A turnover in the neutral zone proved costly early in the first, leading to a Blues goal 3:17 into the frame.

After a Rittich save, Ivan Barbashev swung behind the net and picked up the rebound on the other side for a quick wraparound tally.

The best chance of the first for the homeside came courtesy of Sean Monahan, sprung on a breakway behind two chasing Blues defenceman, but unable to get his shot up-and-over the blocker of Jordan Binnington.

The Blues held a 12-10 edge in shots after 20 minutes.

Michael Stone has a canon of a shot.

And he's been unleashing it more of late.

He absolutely stepped into a howitzer in the second that missed the net but had it been a few degrees lower, would have blown by Binnington before he even had a chance to react.

After Tkachuk stole a puck at the Calgary blueline, he skated up and passed to Mikael Backlund who drove and then circled back to feed the trailing Stone in the high slot between the faceoff dots, the big defenceman getting 100% of the puck when he unloaded.

The Blues doubled their lead with Mark Giordano in the bin for slashing, taking just 17 seconds to make good on the extra-man chance.

After a faceoff win outside the Calgary zone, Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo got the puck down to Perron beside the net who quickly feed it to team scoring leader Ryan O'Reilly who was right on the doorstep and one-timed it home.

The Flames got on the board when Tkachuk scored his fifth of the year, taking a pass from Andrew Mangiapane and shooting far-side past Binnington at 10:59, Backlund getting the other assist.

It was the Flames 24th shot of the contest.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: What a pass from 🍞#STLvsCGY | #Flames pic.twitter.com/SDur6XeqoS

 

Then came the tying tally.

Playing four-on-four after a pair of off-setting minors to Sam Bennett and MacKenzie MacEachern that came from a scrum near the benches, Hamonic scored his first of the season at 16:09.

Mark Giordano set up behind the Calgary net and then feed it out to Hamonic who took advantage of all the open ice and skated it in, trying to chip it around big Colton Parayko. The puck went off the endboards and took a weird hop, coming out into the slot where Hamonic slid a backhand home.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: 🔨#STLvsCGY | #Flames pic.twitter.com/xh8l7TyLLm

 

THEY SAID IT:

Bill Peters on the game:

"It was tight - it was real tight. Both teams, I thought, they know how to check; we know how to check. There was a little bit of action, some flurries back-and-forth, 3-on-2, 4-on-3 type things early. Then they were probably trying to get it locked down in the third but we were able to find a way to get back into it. It was a hard-fought game, not a lot of free ice out there, not a lot of room, and then whoever was managing the puck properly was the team getting rewarded."

 

Peters on team's progression:

"We're getting better here as we go. Lots of good things, lots of things we can still work on and clean up and tighten up a little bit but, no, it's headed in the right direction."

 

Hamonic on hard-fought battle: 

"It was a heavy game. Seemed like a lot of play on the walls, a lot of play in the corners, not a lot of room on the ice. I thought we played a pretty good game. Obviously you're frustrated they get one in overtime but that's going to happen. But I thought for the most part, it was a really good game, back and forth. We showed some, obviously, resiliency. Would have been nice to close it out."

 

Tkachuk on the rally:

"It's tough not to get the second point but for us to get one after going into the third period being down two against probably the best team we've played this year, just the way they're able to grind you and wear you down and play the right way, finish their hits ... they're a playoff team, they showed it last year and they're right in form this year but I thought we did a good job playing with them and taking it to them a bit in the third."

 

Video: "We were able to find a way to get back into it."

 

ONE-TIMERS:

The Flames held a Remembrance Day ceremony prior to the game, honouring our men and women in uniform ... The Flames now have a record of 5-4-3 against Western Conference opponents, 2-1-2 against the Central Division ... The Sean Monahan Countdown To 500 Career Tilts now sits at nine games ... When we have A Saturday night home tilt, fans get treated the beauty SNL intro, below for your viewing pleasure ... Defenceman Oliver Kylington had a massive night for the Stockton Heat, scoring a hat-trick and adding a pair of helpers. Unfortunately it came in a losing affair, as the Heat fell 7-6 in Tucson.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Ladies and gentlemen, it's Saturday Night! pic.twitter.com/JpMOe9mFYs

 

THE LINEUP:

The forwards, D-pairings and goalie to begin last night's tilt (starters in bold):

FORWARDS

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm

Andrew Mangiapane - Mikael Backlund - Matthew Tkachuk

Sam Bennett - Derek Ryan - Alan Quine

Milan Lucic - Mark Jankowski - Tobias Rieder

DEFENCE

Mark Giordano - Travis Hamonic

Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson

TJ Brodie - Michael Stone

GOALTENDER

David Rittich

 

Video: "We seemed to find ourselves."

 

UP NEXT:

The Flames get a few days off now before finishing off this four-gamer homestand Wednesday night when they host the Dallas Stars (click here for tickets). From there, they head out on the road for another back-to-back set starting in Arizona against the Coyotes on Nov. 16 and then in Vegas to battle the Golden Knights Nov. 17.

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