Home ice advantage has been so important for the Calgary Flames these playoffs (hat tip to the C of Red). The Flames were perfect at home in their first round series against the Vancouver Canucks and down 2-0 to the Anaheim Ducks they were going to need all the help they could get.
The fans did their part in Game 3, helping the team to a win, but the team couldn’t reward the fans with a win in Game 4. It was ironic in a sense, given the fact the Flames played better in Game 4, but weren’t rewarded for their effort.
The Flames got out to a great start in Game 3 thanks to an early Brandon Bollig goal that injected even more energy into a building that was already buzzing. But the jubilation didn’t last long as the Flames reverted to old habits from the first two games, allowing the Patrick Maroon-Corey Perry-Ryan Getzlaf line to once again wreak havoc.
First it was Maroon who responded to Bollig’s goal minutes later to tie the game, with Getzlaf drawing an assist. Then it was Perry who scored, once again getting some help from Getzlaf’s second assist of the period to put the Ducks up 2-1 going into the intermission.
Joe Colborne briefly brought the building back to life when he scored a gorgeous shorthanded breakaway goal, but the Ducks once again responded quickly when Matt Beleskey scored soon after to re-take the lead before the period was out.
Luckily for the Flames Johnny Gaudreau was Johnny-on-the-spot in the dying seconds of the game, scoring a great top shelf snipe to send the game to overtime. Mikael Backlund then put the finishing touches on what was – all things considered – a game the Flames were very fortunate to win, given the events of the game.
Game 4 was quite the opposite in more ways than one. It was the Ducks who got the scoring started early, but the Flames who provided their own quick response. Three goals in 1:46 in the first period saw the game swing quickly from a 1-0 deficit to a 2-1 lead for Calgary thanks to goals from Sean Monahan and Michael Ferland.
The Flames also did a much better job of controlling Anaheim’s big line by playing physical with them and minimizing their opportunities. Maroon was the only one of the three to register a single point in the game, only doing so on an empty net goal. Unfortunately for the Flames, the energy expended in controlling the big line left them vulnerable in other aspects of their game.
Anaheim’s secondary scoring filled the void left by the big line as Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano scored, while Matt Beleskey – Calgary’s kryptonite this series – scored his fourth in as many games. The Flames were also in a very giving mood, turning the puck over 12 times to Anaheim’s five – directly resulting in Cogliano’s game-tying goal and Maroon’s empty netter.
That took away from what was an otherwise great effort by the Flames. Now instead of heading back to Anaheim in a best of three situation – something that looked to be a very real possibility at times – the Flames will be fighting to get the series back home, once again in the hopes of tying it up.