The improbable run of the Calgary Flames has come to an end.
Making their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2009 and advancing beyond the first round for the second time since winning Stanley Cup in 1989 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in the first round, the Flames were eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks in five games in the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round. They lost Game 5 on Sunday 3-2 in overtime.
"The investment that we put in in those young players in those playoffs, whether against the Canucks or against the Ducks, it's priceless," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said Sunday. "Now they know how hard you need to suffer to win some games and the pace, how unbelievable the pace is. Now they know. It doesn't mean that it's guaranteed success, but at least it's another page in our book, and obviously I like the way that this group moved forward this year.
"We still have a long way to go. But those playoffs are certainly a huge investment for them and also for the entire organization."
Here are five reasons the Flames were eliminated:
1. Top-line troubles -- Calgary's top line of Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau couldn't ignite the offense against Anaheim.
The Flames' best line wasn't as dominant as it was in the first round when it combined for seven goals and 17 points against the Canucks. In five games against the Ducks, Monahan, Hudler and Gaudreau combined for four goals and six points, with two of their goals coming in Game 5.
Monahan, who had two goals and five points against the Canucks, had one goal in five games against the Ducks. Hudler had three goals and six points against the Canucks but one goal and one assist against the Ducks, all in Game 5. Gaudreau, who had six points in the first round, had two goals and an assist in the second.
Calgary couldn't find a way to counter Anaheim's top line.
Ryan Getzlaf finished the series with seven assists and eight points, and Corey Perry, who scored the series-clinching goal 2:26 into overtime Sunday, had four goals and four assists and leads the playoffs with 15 points. Patrick Maroon had three goals and four points against the Flames.
"Perry, Getzlaf, it's a great one-two combination, but let's not forget about the kid Maroon also," Hartley said. "He does an unbelievable job of being in the right position in front of the net. He complements those two great veterans well."
2. Ducks' depth -- Though the Ducks got a big contribution from the top line, there were plenty of offensive contributors. Matt Beleskey established a Ducks playoff record by scoring in each game of the series. Jakob Silfverberg had five points, and Ryan Kesler had four.
By comparison, Gaudreau and defensemen Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman led Calgary with three points each in the series.
"You look down with Silfverberg with Kesler and Beleskey had a great series," Hartley said. "You look at their [defensemen]. They have four young [defensemen] on top with [Francois] Beauchemin that is kind of the leader of the blue line. And [Clayton] Stoner is a hard-nosed defensemen."
3. Special-teams stumble -- Calgary's penalty kill struggled to contain Anaheim's power play. In 18 shorthanded situations,Calgary allowed six goals.
Calgary's power play, which scored five times on 18 chances against the Canucks (27.8 percent), couldn't match Anaheim, scoring twice on 18 chances (11.1 percent).
4. Road woes -- Calgary couldn't find a way to solve the curse of the Honda Center.
After losing Game 5, the Flames have lost 22 straight games in Anaheim, dating to Game 3 of their 2006 first-round playoff series. The Flames lost two regular-season games in Anaheim by a combined score of 9-5. In Games 1 and 2, the Flames lost by a combined 9-1.
Calgary's playoff road struggles started before arriving in Anaheim.
The Flames had one win on the road in the playoffs, Game 1 at Vancouver. They lost Games 2 and 5 against the Canucks at Rogers Arena and three games in Anaheim to finish 1-5 away from Scotiabank Saddledome.
5. Couldn't close -- The Flames could not finish the Ducks when presented with the opportunity.
After cutting Anaheim's lead in the best-of-7 series to 2-1 in Game 3, Calgary held a 2-1 lead late in the second period of Game 4. But Andrew Cogliano scored to tie the game before the period ended, and Beleskey scored the game-winner on the power play 1:11 into the third period to put the Ducks up 3-1 in the series.
In Game 5, Calgary held a 2-1 lead early the third, but Beleskey's power-play goal tied the game 59 seconds into the period. Perry scored the series-clinching goal 2:26 into overtime.
"I'm rooting for them," Hartley said of the Ducks. "We didn't give them anything. They earned it. They were the better team, and you just have to tip your hat to them because they worked hard and battled and they finished on top of the conference all season. It's not by luck that they beat us."