Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
In time, the disappointment of how it ended – with a gutting 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks – will be mitigated by the unexpectedly successful season they had. But that knowledge did nothing in the short term to temper the disappointment they were feeling in the Calgary Flames’ dressing room Sunday night, when their remarkable, unexpected run to the second round of the NHL playoffs came to an abrupt end in Death Valley, aka the Honda Center.
The Ducks, who’d dominated the Flames at home for the better part of a decade, found a way of pulling one out of the fire Sunday.
Unlike the first two games in the series, which Anaheim dominated and won by a cumulative 9-1 margin, the Flames gave them a much harder time of it in Game 5.
Calgary never trailed in the game until Corey Perry scored 2:26 into overtime to give the Ducks another in a season-long string of come-from-behind victories. Anaheim dominated the overtime, but it wasn’t until Perry banged in a loose puck from the crease, after surviving a scary moment earlier in the game, that the Ducks finally put the Flames away.
“It’s sad that our season is over,” said Flames’ coach Bob Hartley, “but the boys battled hard. There are lots of long faces in this locker room. They wanted to keep going. I’m very proud of our group. Tonight, is not a good night. It’s a tough loss to swallow, but at the same time, we knew that with a young team, we had to take some lessons – and tonight is a tough one.
“Looking at the season, looking at the playoffs, the Ducks stepped it up and in the third period and in OT, we had no answers for them.”
Below, watch the Perry OT goal, handshakes, etc...
from Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald,
The Calgary Flames are all out of second chances and have no more last life lines left to call.
Sunday — Game 5 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks — is their final hope of extending their Cinderella season.
After Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, they trail 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“We want to keep going,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley Saturday afternoon as the team prepared to load up to head back to the Happiest Place on Earth. “This has been a great season for us. I know how resilient our players have been. It’s not that we’re down 1-3 or we haven’t won in Anaheim. We need to win one game. Let’s bring it back to the ‘C’ of Red and, after this, let’s see what happens.
“But we need to win (Sunday) night, plain and simple.”
from Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald,
Facing elimination on Sunday in Game 5 at the Honda Center — a position they put themselves in after their belief carried them to a 4-3 overtime win in Tuesday’s Game 4 as, yet again, another comeback victory — the Flames are behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven second-round series.
“We know our situation … obviously, we need to win,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “We’ll be a desperate group, as always. I know that everyone that’s going to get on the plane (Saturday) believes we can go and get Game 5 and force a Game 6 here.
“That’s the identity of this organization all year. A tough loss, we’re going to swallow it. (Saturday) we’ll be back at work.”
On this night, however, their resilient nature wasn’t enough.
Joe Colborne’s uncharacteristic high-sticking penalty on Francois Beauchemin at the end of the second period led to Matt Beleskey’s game-winning goal 1:11 into the third period. Patrick Maroon scored an empty-netter with 36.7 seconds left on the clock to ice it.
The Flames had a 56-second five-on-three in the third — which had been similar to the final minutes of Tuesday’s game which saw Johnny Gaudreau connect with 19.5 seconds left to force overtime. But they couldn’t connect.
Game highlights are below...
added 8:03am, Game story from Eric Duhatsched is below too....
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
This city is famous for its Red Mile, the fun part of town where those without tickets to their beloved Flames can wear their colours, cheer on their team and hang out with like-minded individuals.
The “C of Red” will swarm the street Friday night, no doubt, when the Flames play Game 4 of their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks.
But the Red Mile is also infamous for catcalls and groping, and the testosterone-fuelled mob has given Calgary a bit of a black eye nationally.
Sports should be as fun and safe for women as they are for men. But some nights, that’s just not the case on the Red Mile.
So I came Calgary to walk the Red Mile. Is it just a handful of rubes ruining the fun for everyone? Or is it a handful of protesters making a mountain where a molehill might otherwise be?
from Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun,
If you’ve been following this second-round showdown between the Flames and Ducks, you know Honda Center has been a house of horrors for the crew from Calgary. In fact, they have lost 21 straight contests in Anaheim, a skid that dates back to April 25, 2006.
So the idea of facing elimination just down the street from Disneyland is ... well ... downright frightening.
With a victory Friday in Game 4 at the Saddledome (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet/Sportsnet 960 The Fan), the Flames can avoid that.
Or, at least, delay it.
“Obviously, they have home-ice advantage, so you have to win one there,” said Flames right-winger David Jones. “To get the win last game was a huge game. And now, it’s going to be equally important. We don’t want to go back into their building down 3-1.”
The Flames were down 3-2 in the final moments of Tuesday’s Game 3, but Calder Trophy candidate Johnny Gaudreau picked the top shelf with 19.5 ticks left in the regulation to force overtime and centre Mikael Backlund snaked a shot through traffic on a delayed penalty call in the extra session.
“I think we’ve given them some life in the series now, which is never a good thing, especially against a pesky Calgary team, a team that really enjoys playing in their own building,” Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler told reporters after Thursday’s practice in Banff. “We understand that we’ve given them some confidence for Game 4 but, when it comes down to it, if we do the things we can do as a team, we feel like we’re a difficult group to handle.
“We have to come with a good response in Game 4 and try and put another stranglehold on the series.”
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
The poise, patience and discipline that had become the Ducks' hallmark in their sweep of Winnipeg and their first two victories over the Flames deserted them on Tuesday. The Flames pushed them, and for the first time in this series—for the first time in seven playoffs games this spring — the Ducks didn't push back.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, the voice of calm this season and in the postseason, maintained his cool after the game, setting a tone of reflection backed by a continued belief in their strengths, though they didn't show all of those strengths Tuesday.
"They haven't quit all year. We didn't expect that," Getzlaf said of the Flames. "I didn't think we played our best game tonight. We made some errors that were uncharacteristic, but it's bound to happen. You're in the playoffs. It's going to happen."
But it hadn't happened until Tuesday for the Ducks. They had almost forgotten what it felt like to lose, and it didn't feel good. It stung, and it should have, after losing with so little time left.
"We've just got to win the next one," Andersen said. "That's what we want to do right now."
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Just when you thought it was over; just when you thought there were no miracles left for the Calgary Flames; just when you thought another officiating controversy possibly couldn’t go against them, just then, they did it again.
On a night when the Flames managed just nine shots in the first two periods and were back on their heels most of the night, they pulled another rabbit out the hat Tuesday night before a loud, loyal Scotiabank Saddledome crowd that it used to seeing wild, unexpected finishes.
Michael Backlund scored the first playoff goal of his NHL career 4:24 into overtime to give the Flames a stunning 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the visiting Anaheim Ducks, breathing new life into their best-of-seven Pacific Division final.
“There are no words anymore to describe this group,” said Flames’ coach Bob Hartley. “They never quit. They keep believing.
“Once again, it was a great show of character and a great show of grit.”
Game highlights are below...
from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,
If you’re a Wild fan, you’re not in terrible shape. They almost certainly need to win tonight, and probably again in Game 4 on Thursday. That won’t be easy against a Hawks team that looks to finally be shifting into Stanley Cup mode right on time. But they’ve got a shot.
The Flames have a weaker case. They’ll no doubt get a boost from a loud crowd tonight, but the Ducks went into a raucous building in Winnipeg in Round 1 and did just fine. Calgary’s biggest problem is that they just don’t look like they’re good enough to keep up with Anaheim. They’ve still got a puncher’s chance here, but not much more than that.
And then there’s Montreal. The Habs certainly didn’t fare well in the various categories that made up this post, and after Sunday night they looked like a team that was closer to a full-scale meltdown than a comeback. So it’s tempting to write them off completely … until you remember Carey Price. The guy is going to be MVP for a reason, and if anyone can single-handedly steal a series his team has no right to win, it’s him. And the way they’re playing right now, the Canadiens might need exactly that.
from Travis Yost of TSN,
One of the big reasons why Calgary has had such a problem against Anaheim has to do with the Ducks’ newfound depth – an element the organization didn’t really possess just a few years ago. The forward crop has been lined with young, cheap talent, and the blueline has been bolstered with a slew of talented puck-movers who can jump-start the attack.
Perhaps the most interesting addition, though, has been that of Ryan Kesler.
Acquired via trade with Vancouver in the summer of 2014, Anaheim brought in Kesler to ease some of the burden off of the Anaheim top line. The working theory was that Kesler and a couple of talented wingers would create a pseudo-checking line – one that mitigated offensive production from the opposition, allowing the Getzlaf group to run wild on others.
It’s no surprise that, through the first two games of the Calgary/Anaheim series, Bruce Boudreau has leaned heavily on the Kesler trio to suppress the number of offensive chances for Calgary’s vaunted Sean Monahan line, which has regularly featured Jiri Hudler and, to a lesser extent, Johnny Gaudreau/David Wolf. On the road, they couldn’t get away from the Kesler group.
Below, a quick visualization of the competition Sean Monahan saw in the first two games of the series. For the sake of this piece, we’ll limit it to forwards – I already ran the numbers on defensive match-ups, and Monahan saw a pretty even spread of Anaheim’s pairings.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org