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TOUGH ROW TO HOE

Flames dig out of early 3-0 hole to Kings but fall in overtime at Scotiabank Saddledome

by TY PILSON @typilson / CalgaryFlames.com

Trying to play catch-up is never easy.

No matter the sport, no matter the opponent, no matter the night.

The Flames struggled in the first period and early in the second Tuesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome against the LA Kings and despite charging hard later in the tilt, weren't able to dig out of the hole they put themselves in.

The result: a 4-3 overtime loss that dropped their record to 1-1-1 on the season.

 

Video: Brendan Parker breaks down the loss to the Kings

 

Matthew Tkachuk was a monster for the Flames, scoring two goals - including the tying tally - and adding an assist, having a part in all three Calgary markers.

He was physical. He showed his skill. He did it all and was named the game's first star.

The homeside trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes and were outshot 20-3, two of those Flames shots coming in the final minute of play.

Tyler Toffoli got the first tally for the visitors. Kings defenceman Drew Doughty - booed every time he touched the puck due to his ongoing feud with Tkachuk - got two shots on net, the rebound from the second one coming out to Ilya Kovalchuk, who won a battle with three Flames to chip the puck out of the scrum right onto the stick of a swooping Toffoli, who snapped it past Rittich.

Bookending the period, Sean Walker got the second Kings marker with 2:34 left to play, firing a puck from a sharp angle out by the boards - parallel to the net - that somehow squeaked shortside between Rittich and the pipe.

Inbetween, there weren't a lot of highlights for the homeside.

Tkachuk did throw two big hits on Doughty - the second one leading his D partner Kurtis MacDermid to grab Tkachuk and subsequently get sent off for roughing.

On the ensuing Calgary man-advantage, a tic-tac-toe play between Johnny Gaudreau, Tkachuk, and Sean Monahan led to the centre's shot ringing off the post for their best scoring chance of the frame.

Rittich's best stops of the first came on a pair of shots by Alex Iafallo, who took a behind-the-net feed from Anze Kopitar and got two whacks at the puck in tight in the blue paint but was denied.

Tkachuk had a golden chance just 30 seconds into the second, but lost the handle on the puck as he went airborne near the crease.

Kovalchuk then made it made it 3-0 at the 3:46 mark. Rittich made a stop on a point shot off his blocker, but the puck went straight up in the air and the Russian sniper was able to smack it out of the air and under the pipe.

The officials reviewed the play to see if it was a high stick but the call stood.

Later as Lucic skated the puck up the ice, MacDermid threw a hit on him, the two big men colliding solidly at centre ice. As they skated towards the corner, they both threw the mitts for a quick fight with a handful of punches thrown.

Just past the midway point of the period, Tkachuk grabbed the puck off a Kings turnover and snapped a wicked wrist-shot low, far-side past Jack Campbell from the high slot.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: What. A. Shot.#LAKvsCGY | #Flames pic.twitter.com/fkyqhnbbg1

 

The ice started to tilt in Calgarys favour after that, as they began to generate more offensive chances and rushes.

They were rewarded 2:42 later, Noah Hanifin driving hard to the net off the boards and getting a shot away, Campbell making what looked like the initial stop and then Backlund poking it home.

But the goal was later credited to Hanifin.

Tkachuk picked up an assist.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: A 💯 angle.#LAKvsCGY | #Flames pic.twitter.com/TkOnmWfW8d

 

With less than five minutes left in the period, Rasmus Andersson saved what would looked like a sure goal, sweeping the puck away as it was just inches from the goal-line with Rittich laid out on his back and unable to recover, the Kings swarming around the net.

The late surge led to Calgary outshooting LA 12-10 in the middle stanza.

In the third, the Flames - as expected - pushed hard to tie the game.

They had a boatload of chances, the best being:

  • Andersson skating in from the point all alone and unloading a shot that Campbell flaashed his glove to catch;
     
  • Gaudreau setting up shop behind the net, feeding the puck out to Monahan parked at the top of the blue paint, but Campbell closing the pads on his attempt;
     
  • Tkachuk's tough-angle backhand of a point-shot rebound the sailed across the cage and wide;
     
  • Another Gaudreau feed to Monahan in the slot, another big stop.

With 1:04 left, Tkachuk electrified the crowd by gathering a rebound out of the air and spinning before knocking a nifty backhand home.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Art ���#LAKvsCGY | #Flames pic.twitter.com/k0z9pj7DFP

 

But Sam Bennett was sent to the box for tripping with 27.7 seconds remaining in the tilt to give the Kings a powerplay to start extra time.

Doughty's point blast 50 seconds into OT would count as the winner.

 

THEY SAID IT:

Matthew Tkachuk on the slow start:

"The first period isn't how we're going to be successful this year. To say it nicely. We got completely outplayed in the first. Looch (Milan Lucic) steps up and we started to turn the tide again … I think it was almost like men against boys out there. We were in their zone for maybe a shot attempt. We either turn it over or just lose possession, they'd come back, get a few shots, a few O-zone shifts. They were doing what we were doing in the second and third, setting up your next line for success by having short shifts, playing as a team, rolling each line and setting up the next one."

Andrew Mangiapane on scrum with Kurtis MacDermid:

"You've got to know that Chucky brings that style, so you've got to stick it up for your teammates, you know? Derby gave him a shot there, so I just tried to break it up there and help out a teammate."

Lucic on Tkachuk's big game:

"When he got the first goal, we were able to get our game going. Once we got engaged and started to impose our will and started playing, we were able to play our game. But when we come out flat like that, it's hard to recover from."

Coach Bill Peters on battling back from 3-0 deficit:

"I thought some guys dug in for sure and did a good job of that. We got behind the eight ball early, obviously, giving up 20 shots in the opening period. Scored on, I think, the fourth shift of the game, so the start killed us. … We needed a spark. We ended up going down to three lines trying to get guys into it more. Backlund, Tkachuk and Mangiapane gave us that spark. I thought they had an opportunity on their first shift in the second (period). Had some jump. ... We got a little momentum. That was a good faceoff play, got us on the board and that changed the game a little bit."

 

Read more in Say What: 'Start on Time'

 

ONE-TIMERS:

Monahan, who will be 25 next Saturday, is already taking part in his seventh NHL season. His goal Saturday - his second of the season - has him now tied with Jarome Iginla for the second most goals in franchise history (174) before turning a quarter century. His 174 goals have him sitting in 10th in Flames franchise history for most goals, he is on pace to move past The Magin Man, Kent Nilsson (189), this season ... This is the first of four matchups this season between the Flames and Kings. These two teams played each other four times a season ago with the Flames winning all but one matchup in the season series while outscoring the Kings 12-6.

 

THE LINEUP:

The forward lines, D pairings and goalie to start Tuesday night's game (starters in bold):

FORWARDS

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm

Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Sam Bennett

Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Andrew Mangiapane

Tobias Rieder - Mark Jankowski - Michael Frolik

DEFENCE

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson

GOALTENDER

David Rittich

 

UP NEXT:

The Flames head out for a three-game road swing that starts against the Stars in Dallas on Thursday, before back-to-back tilts against the Golden Knights in Sin City on Saturday, and the Sharks in San Jose on Sunday.

The team then returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome for a two-game homestand that starts with the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday (click here for tickets) and the Detroit Red Wings Thursday (click here for tickets).

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