Death. Taxes. Ducks over Flames. Some things in life never change, and for the Calgary Flames, who’d won just one single time in their previous 23 visits to the Honda Centre, Monday night was more of the same old, same old.
Calgary spotted Anaheim two early goals, rallied to tie the game, but then went on to lose a lengthy, dramatic 3-2 shootout decision to the Ducks. By pushing the game to OT, the Flames earned a single point in the standings, but dropped further back in the Western Conference playoff race, after the team they entered play tied with, the Phoenix Coyotes, won over the Detroit Red Wings.
It took until the eighth round of a dramatic shootout before Niklas Hagman, a former Flames player picked up on re-entry waivers by the Ducks, scored against countryman Miikka Kiprusoff to secure the victory.
“It’s a goalie I’ve practiced a lot against,” said Hagman. “I don’t have that many moves. He knows my go-to moves. I tried to switch a little bit. I wanted to come with good speed and shoot it. Luckily for me, he probably thought I was going to go with my backhand.”
It was a difficult loss for Calgary to swallow and spoiled another strong effort from Kiprusoff, who was chasing his 300th career win and made 31 saves in regulation and overtime. The shootout went back and forth, Calgary moving ahead early on a goal by Olli Jokinen, the Ducks’ Corey Perry tying it. Bobby Ryan put the Ducks ahead in the fifth round, only to see Blair Jones even things for Calgary. After Hagman scored, the Flames sent out rookie Mikael Backlund, who tried a little bit of razzle dazzle, the inside-outside Peter Forsberg move, but he didn’t fool Hiller.
“I did my move a little too early and he read my unfortunately,” said Backlund, who noted: “It sucks losing, but we came out with one point. If we’d been sharp in the first, we’d have come out with the win.”
There were only 12,096 in attendance for the game and many of them were Calgary fans who left the rink disappointed by the seesaw encounter, which saw the Ducks get goals from Bobby Ryan and Matt Beleskey 119 seconds apart in the opening period to build an early lead. Ultimately Calgary hung in there and made a game of it, beginning with Alex Tanguay’s sixth of the season just after a penalty-killing shift ended. From there, it was left for Jarome Iginla to score a third-period power-play goal after Luca Sbisa was tossed from the game for an illegal hit to the head of the Flames’ Tim Jackman.
Sbisa received a major and a game misconduct for staggering Jackman at the Ducks blue line 2:40 into the third period, with a big but high hit. In the ensuing melee, Tom Kostopolous was also tagged for a minor penalty, giving the Flames a three-minute manpower advantage. It wasn’t a typical power-play effort, however, Iginla sneaking behind the Ducks’ defence, Olli Jokinen hitting him with a long pass to put him in the clear. Iginla scored on Hiller, who’d previously blocked Jokinen on a clear breakaway.
Iginla’s goal was his 20th of the season, marking the 14th season in a row he’s reached that plateau. Only 31 other players in NHL history have managed that achievement.
“Shootouts are a bit of a coin toss,” said Tanguay, who scored a record 10 times in the shootout for Calgary last year, but was foiled on his attempt by the Ducks’ Jonas Hiller. “We had our chances, they had their chances. We had a two-on-one in overtime, Jarome (Iginla) and I, and we made a good play and he just shot a little high. Those things happen.
“Certainly, for us, we’re looking to get points and we can’t dwell on the points we’ve lost. We’ve got to look to San Jose and Phoenix and play our game. Tonight, I thought we were solid.”
A key moment for Calgary came in the sixth minute of the second period when Scott Hannan (interference) and Jones (double highsticking minor) received penalties 24 seconds apart. On the ensuing 96-second two-man advantage, the Ducks did everything but score, one time ringing a shot off the goalpost.
Iginla and Kiprusoff were the only remaining Calgary players who were with the organization the last time the Flames won in Anaheim, but neither was in the line-up for the victory. Roman Turek got the win in goal for Calgary, Toni Lydman – who now plays for Anaheim – scored one of Calgary’s goals.
The Flames road trip continues Wednesday night in San Jose against the Sharks, Kiprusoff’s former team.