CALGARY, AB -- There is no doubt the Calgary Flames play in the first two periods of Wednesday's 4-2 victory over the Colorado was some of their best this season.
They stuck to the game plan of peppering goaltender J.S. Giguere with as many shots as possible, lobbing 21 of them at him in the first frame along. They cycled the puck perfectly in the offensive zone. They were responsible in their own end as well as playing intelligently in the neutral zone.
Simply put, it was men against boys for the majority of the first 40:00.
Then, the momentum shifted in Colorado's favour. Pressing hard to beat Miikka Kiprusoff, who appeared to be celebrating his 35th birthday by absolutely stoning the Avs on every quality scoring opportunity they had, they ramped up their compete level.
The Flames? Well, their intensity appeared to level off rather than rising with Colorado's.
"The last 20:00, we got off our game a little bit and let the game come to us," head coach Brent Sutter admitted. "Allowed them to dictate how the third was going to be played.
"I don't want to be negative about it either. We found a way to win a hockey game and that was the most important thing."
Winger Lee Stempniak was quick to diagnose the issues with the team's performance in the final 20:00.
"We knew they were going to come out hard and we didn't match it," he sighed. "We talked about it after the first period. They were going to get yelled at and get fired up and come out. We just didn't respond as well as we should have."
According to Olli Jokinen, the team has to evaluate what went awry in the final stanza, learn from it and move on. In regards to their superb play earlier in the contest, they need to use that as momentum as they prepare for the St. Louis Blues.
"This is a tough league to win in. You've got to play your best every night if you want to get two points. There's no free points in this league. You've got to play hard for a full 60:00, no matter who you play against."
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