The Flames felt the crush of it on Saturday, dropping a 6-2 decision to the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena, and leaving town - like countless others with high-rolling ambitions - empty-handed.
Rasmus Andersson and Johnny Gaudreau had the goals for the Flames, while David Rittich made 24 saves in a losing cause.
The powerplay was excellent all night, and was responsible for the majority of the Flames' offence (13 of their 35 shots, on only five opportunities), but it was their 5-on-5 play and puck management that suffered in the defeat.
"There's little things you can draw like that, but we didn't play hard enough," said Head Coach Bill Peters. "Until we start to play hard and play hard for 60 minutes, it's going to be up in the air all night long, or you're going to get blown out.
"We've got to develop a little bit of a work ethic here."
The setback drops Calgary's record to 2-2-1 on the year.
The Flames killed off an early interference penalty to Andrew Mangiapane, but the Knights went right back on the attack and deposited the game's opening goal at 3:24.
William Carrier brought it up ice and drove wide on his off wing, cutting to the net and a weak backhand shot into the pads of Rittich. However, Tomas Nosek followed up the play and won a race to the stray puck, pressing it through the goalie's left pillow and in for his third of the campaign.
The Flames, who were able to settle the game down a stronger back half of the stanza, had several chances to equalize, but Marc-Andre Fleury was up to the task.
Tobi Rieder had the best look for the visitors, dancing his way through a maze of defenders and made a bid for the five-hole, but his backhand try was punted away in tight.
Rittich was dialled in from the get-go, and made several key stops early to keep the damage to a minimum. His best, a 10-bell, top-of-the-crease glove stop negated a goal from Ryan Reaves, who capitalized on a turnover and unloaded a slapper from between the hash marks.
The Flames came out like gangbusters to begin the middle stanza, and were promptly rewarded with two strikes in 33 seconds, less five minutes in, to take their first lead of the night.
Andersson got the ball rolling as he finished off a 2-on-1 with Mikael Backlund, sending a missile from the top of the circles under the glove of Fleury to make it a one-goal came.
Then, Johnny Gaudreau took the puck up the near side and filtered a pass into the middle, trying to Lindholm. Instead, it was Knights forward William Karlsson that got a small piece of it on the backcheck, sending it five-hole on his own puck-stopper.
But the Knights weren't going away, and at 6:44, the homeside brought the game back on even terms.
Mark Stone was initially turned aside with a rocket from the top of the circles, but he quickly gathered up his own rebound and whipped his third of the year through the wickets to make it a 2-2 game.
And the goals kept coming.
Carrier put the Knights back on top with a bar-down backhand shot after receiving a pass from Karlsson at the lip of the blue paint. '
Just like that - all before the 10-minute mark of the period - the Flames were back facing a one-goal deficit.
"I think we started to play the right there for a couple minutes and got rewarded for it, but then we got right back to cheating for offence," said Milan Lucic, who had two shots and five minutes in 15:45 of ice time. "Once we started turning pucks over and not covering up, we gave up some odd-man rushes and it ends up in the back of our net, so...
"It's one of those games early on that you can learn a lot from. That's what we need to do with a quick turnaround, playing again tomorrow night."
The Knights opened up a two-goal lead with 2:34 to play in the period, as Paul Stastny went one-on-one with Travis Hamonic and used the defender as a screen, firing a shot that dribbled five-hole Rittich.
The Flames had several chances to get one back on a late powerplay, but couldn't buy a goal despite littering the crease with five shots (along with five others that either missed or were blocked) in the final 42 seconds.
But the push ended there.
Reaves gave the Knights a 5-2 lead at 4:47 of the third, capitalizing on a turnover after Mark Jankowski and Sam Bennett collided with one another at the blueline.
Cody Glass then pinballed a backhand shot off the knee of Mark Giordano late in the game to ice a 6-2 final.
"If we could have got one there at the end of the second, we obviously would have gained some momentum that we would have taken into the third. But, Fleury played great for them, especially when we were on the powerplay. Our unit, we've got to find ways to chip in when we get opportunities. Not a lot of times we start the powerplay, (but) we did on that one and created a lot of zone time. There's some good out of it, but we've got to find a way to find the back of the net."
Andersson on how the game turned:
"We started off the second period really well and got two quick ones there. If you make mistakes against a team like this, they're going to punish you and that's what they did. We had moments where we're really good, but we haven't really found our game for 60 minutes yet. ... It stings, it really does. ... We blew the lead."
Andersson on what makes playing at T-Mobile so difficult:
"They come out flying, right? It's a tough team to play. They're a really good team and their top two lines are playing really well. They come at you with a lot of speed, they forecheck you really well and if we don't have that communication down low or don't get our hold-ups, it's tough to break the puck out. They punished us for that on the forecheck a few times (tonight). It's a good team, it's a loud building, and maybe you don't really hear your partner on the ice as much. But it's on us, too, and we just started off the game really bad."
Peters on defensive-zone play:
"I thought they did a good job putting the puck behind us and we had a real hard time with D-zone transition. We didn't come out clean and, therefore, we spent a lot of time defending. The end result - you saw what it was. They end up getting some momentum and we spent too much time in the defensive zone."
The '3M' Line was reunited to start the second period, as Michael Frolik moved up to play alongside Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk. Andrew Mangiapane, meanwhile, moved down to play with Mark Jankowski and Tobi Rieder. … Tonight, started the first of 10 back-to-back sets for the Flames this season. Last year, the Flames posted a 9-1 record in the first game in that scenario, and a 5-5 record in the back half.
Here are the forward lines, D pairings and goalie to start Saturday's game (starters in bold):
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Andrew Mangiapane Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Sam Bennett Tobias Rieder - Mark Jankowski - Michael Frolik
Mark Giordano - Rasmus Andersson Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic TJ Brodie - Michael Stone
The Flames are back in action tomorrow night as they fly to San Jose to take on the Sharks at 8 p.m. MT (TV: Sportsnet One/360; Radio: Sportsnet960 THE FAN).