A game that appeared certain to be headed to a shoot-out instead ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Flames who battled hard and played well in a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night at the Saddledome.
An errant point-shot by Rangers defenseman Daniel Girardi caromed off the end-boards and ended up right on the stick off his defense partner Ryan McDonagh who buried the game winner past a helpless Henrik Karlsson. The puck crossed the goal line with just 1.8 seconds remaining in the extra frame and although the Flames would have been in tough to beat Henrik Lundqvist in the shoot-out, it would have been nice to at least have had the chance.
Playing the second of a six-game homestand, Calgary outplayed the visiting Rangers for most of the night but were unable to put a puck past Lundqvist in neither the second of third periods and then five minutes of overtime. Much as he had done two nights earlier in a sparkling 40 save shutout win over the Vancouver Canucks, the star Rangers goalie was once again the best player on the ice, thwarting away Calgary shooters time and time again.
New York’s top line of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Derek Stepan opened the scoring in the first with Gaborik pulling the trigger on a one-timer to capitalize on a Cory Sarich interference penalty. The Flames responded less than a minute later with Jarome Iginla’s second goal of the season pulling Calgary even. New York then took advantage of some hard work by the penalty-killing duo of Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle with Prust scoring a short-handed goal at 13:42 of the first. The lead however was again short-lived as the Calgary power-play clicked this time with Mark Giordano’s point-shot finding its way through traffic to beat the Rangers net-minder.
The two teams played scoreless hockey for the next two periods with Calgary’s best chance to win the game coming on a delay of game penalty to Rangers defenseman Jeff Woywitka late in the third, but Lundqvist held the fort and allowed the game to continue on to overtime.
Head coach Brent Sutter stuck to his plan of giving Miika Kiprusoff more rest than he is accustomed to this season and elected to start back-up Henrik Karlsson who played well in relief but was ultimately out-dueled by his Swedish country-men.
With the Nashville Predators on deck for a Saturday matinee, goals will again be hard to come by against Pekka Rinne and co.
Resident of Windsor, Ontario. Extensive knowledge of both the NHL and junior hockey in Canada, particularly the OHL. Writer for THW covering the Winnipeg Jets and the OHL as well as covering Phoenix Coyotes prospects for Hockey’s Future.