SNAPSHOTS:Familiar storyline as Flames fall in overtime to Stars7 min read
It was 80s Night at the Saddledome.
This might be the only rink in the NHL where fans are missing the era when games could end in a tie.
Three-on-three overtime has not been kind to the 2022-23 Calgary Flames and this turned out to be yet another example, with Dallas Stars sharpshooter Jason Robertson ripping the winner with just 12.3 ticks remaining in the sudden-death session to finish off a 6-5 humdinger.
The Flames have now collected 15 loser points. That’s not the category that you hope to be leading the league in.
“Battling down to the last minute, going into OT, it just comes down to one play,” said Flames blue-liner MacKenzie Weegar after an entertaining affair. “And we have to start making that play.”
Now four points out of the final wildcard in the Western Conference, the fear is they’ll look back on that pile of single points and wonder if their futility in overtime ultimately cost them a playoff invite.
The Flames are 6-15 when a game goes beyond 60 minutes. That is a gruesome .286 win percentage.
No complaints about Saturday’s music selection at the Saddledome, but maybe they should have saved Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ for the brief break before the extra period?
“Obviously, if you would have a different record and win more, you would have better confidence going into OT,” said Flames alternate captain Elias Lindholm, understandably in a miserable mood after this latest bonus-time bummer. “Obviously, we’re trying, but right now we can’t find a way to win in OT. If I had the answer, I would change something, for sure.”
Speaking of which, the Flames must have been wishing they could hop in a time-machine and re-do the first couple of minutes of this ode to the 80s. After 1:58 of action, the Stars had already potted a pair.
And, of course, a Delorean would have been handy to take another crack at the ending. On what started as an odd-man rush, Robertson toe-dragged around Rasmus Andersson and roofed a backhander. The NHL reviewed that play to double-check for goaltender interference by a crease-crashing Radek Faksa, and a seething Jacob Markstrom shattered his stick as he exited the ice.
“Tough one,” Andersson groaned. “You give Robertson an inch and he takes it and scores. Tough game. Yeah, that sucked.
“We had looks. I hit the post. Backs (Mikael Backlund) had almost a back-door tap-in. So we have the looks, we’re just not putting them in. It’s obviously frustrating that we’ve lost 15 games in overtime.”
Andersson and Weegar, currently partnered on the Flames’ top defence duo, combined for a grand total of six points against the Central Division-leading Stars. Both scored, both collected a couple of assists.
Lindholm, Blake Coleman and Nick Ritchie did the rest of the lamp-lighting for the locals.
Robertson’s overtime winner was his second snipe of the evening, while Joe Pavelski, Radek Faksa, Wyatt Johnston and Jani Hakanpaa also bulged twine for the boys from Big D.
Home just long enough to wash their undies, the Flames are again headed south for a SoCal swing — Monday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Kings and then Tuesday’s tussle with the Anaheim Ducks.
“We’re big boys in here — we do a good job of keeping the positivity and keeping the confidence high,” Weegar said in a post-game scrum. “What are we going to do? Dwell on it and let it crush us? No … We have to keep going here.”
“It feels like I say it every time I talk to you guys, but we have to get every point we can,” Andersson echoed. “We got one today and we have a big trip coming up where we need to get four points.”
AROUND THE BOARDS
Flames coach Darryl Sutter aced this post-game assessment: “Everybody got their money’s worth, that’s for sure” … Saturday’s showdown between the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators turned out to be a three-pointer, a worst-case scenario for the crew from Calgary. The Jets prevailed in overtime and are now four points up on the Flames in the race for the final wildcard. Both have a dozen dates remaining. The Predators are five back of the Winnipeggers with three games in hand … Andersson made a superb saucer pass to spring Ritchie on a breakaway, and the trade-deadline acquisition finished with a slick move to his backhand … Thanks to Weegar’s second-period tally, a lucky fan scored a free trip to Las Vegas through the ‘Minute to Win It’ contest. He was already wearing a No. 52 Blasty jersey, and this certainly should cinch Weegar’s status as his favourite player. “Good karma,” Weegar grinned during an in-house interview at the second intermission. “I hope he wins lots of money in Vegas” … In a seven-game playoff series in 2022, the Flames and Stars combined for 29 goals. In three regular-season meetings this winter, they totalled 31. Bonkers … The Flames scratched veteran tough guy Milan Lucic and rookie winger Jakob Pelletier. It sounds like the 34-year-old Lucic, the most experienced dude on the roster, may be platooning for the remainder of the season with Ritchie, a fellow left-winger. “It would be hard to have Nick and Looch both in at the same time,” Sutter said. “They can only play the one position. Gotta keep ’em both going, right?”
OFF THE GLASS
Sutter’s message to his group? “Stay in the moment boys. Everybody is trying to push you away — stay there” … Pavelski notched three points Saturday, boosting his career total against the Flames to 59. Among active skaters, only Paul Stastny has had more offensive success against Calgary … Lindholm hit the 20-goal mark for the fourth time in his career. It would be five in a row — all on behalf of the Flames — but he was sitting at 19 when the 2019-20 campaign was halted due to COVID-19 … Asked after morning skate about Tyler Toffoli, who has already posted a new career-high in points, Sutter dropped an interesting tidbit. He revealed that the sharpshooting right-winger was injured last spring, which might explain why his playoff stat-line was so underwhelming. “Ty is a good pro — can play anywhere, play lots. He’s a guy I trust in a lot of situations,” Sutter said. “Touch wood, he’s stayed healthy this year. Last year, he played hurt at the end and played hurt in the playoffs so didn’t really get everything he wanted.”
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