The unruly flames follow a familiar storyline in Game 2 loss


EDMONTON – The first was a completely unnecessary cross-check of the coin toss.

Heck, the puck hadn’t even been released when Sam Bennett applied wood to Jansen Harkins with such force the referee couldn’t ignore it.

The second involved a collection of Andrew Mangiapane cross-checks on the back of fallen Cody Eakin that were so violent it would be sworn the Calgary Flames winger was trying to break his stick for his dad to buy a new one.

The two cruelly ill-conceived transgressions came in the last 10 minutes of an intense game the Flames were so desperately trying to equalize.

Inexperience shines through.

Lost opportunity.

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With a chance to bury a Jets team missing injured snipers Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, the Flames wasted a two-goal comeback with a pair of late penalties that testify to the recent history of playoff failure. of the team.

And now, with the best of five series tied 1-1 and the very real threat of a Scheifele return in Game 3 on Tuesday, Flames fans have every reason to start wondering if the playoff ghosts past are already starting to recur. their ugly heads.

In last year’s playoffs, the Colorado Avalanche bounced back from a first loss to sweep the next four on the power of an equally close second game that ended – you guessed it – with the same 3-2 score the Flames failed on Monday.

As the Flames demonstrated at the time, the easiest way to ensure your own demise is to contribute to it with your own mental breakdowns.

For those who follow, that’s 11 losses in Calgary’s last 13 playoff games.

“What we need to focus on (Tuesday) – our discipline has to be there,” said Flames interim coach Geoff Ward.

“We took some penalties, especially late, that weren’t necessary, which put us at a penalty kill. It’s an emotional moment, for sure. At the same time, you cannot put your team in danger. In these situations, absolutely nothing happens and we put ourselves down. We need to be a little bit more aware and smarter there, and allow ourselves to continue playing five on five.

Bennett’s latest in a career of poor penalties marred an otherwise stellar outing that saw the team’s physical leader play the hero late in the second when he completed the two-goal return with a great solo effort. who beat Connor Hellebuyck with a lucky rebound.

Mangiapane’s collapse came with 2:31 left after being rocked from behind, angering the youngster who had two runs in Game 1 and seven hits in Game 2.

Great efforts marred by late indulgences.

Both need to be smarter and they know it.

Unlike two nights earlier when the Flames used two power play goals (and a shorty) to win 4-1, Game 2 saw the Flames’ power play go scoreless in four tries.

Nikolaj Ehlers’ game winner came with the man advantage midway through the third period of a close game where the Flames continued most of the night.

Not what Flames watchers expected, given the absence of two Jets cleats who have combined for 57 goals this season, sending all four lines into disarray.

“We didn’t take them lightly – we knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Mark Giordano, whose club operated under his typical early deficit seven minutes after Harkins assaulted the top defensive pair of the Flames with a sniper.

“Obviously there was a great opportunity for us, but all we can do now is watch the next one. It was a tough game. I thought we fought hard to come back to a tie. Unfortunately we came out on the wrong side, but will be back immediately (Tuesday). ”

The Flames insist they knew the Jets would have a bigger push after allowing four unanswered goals in Game 1.

“We knew they were going to play hard to avoid a 0-2 situation,” said Milan Lucic. “They got that one on the power play and our power play was not able to capitalize tonight. It was just like we were trying to get back into the game all night.

Of course.

Shed 2-0 five minutes into the second period, Elias Lindholm responded midway through the early afternoon game to breathe life into a Flames side that relied on timely saves from Cam Talbot throughout. .

Had the team been more disciplined or capitalized on their power plays, the complexion of the game might have been different.

Zac Rinaldo’s unruly cross-control early in the second knocked the Flames down two men for two full minutes, putting his place in the roster in jeopardy for Game 3.

Finding the right balance of aggression in the playoffs can be the difference between winning and losing a series.

“It’s a pretty fine line right now, it’s hard to know what they’re going to call and what they’re not going to call,” said Bennett, whose club are the most inexperienced playoff team in the game. 24-team tournament.

“I was fighting right there, and I guess I got too aggressive and the referee decided he didn’t like it. I take my responsibilities and that’s how it happened.

“It would certainly have been huge to go 2-0 up in the series. But we are still totally confident in our group. We played two really tough games and we’re still in a good position here. We really need to reset and worry about the game (Tuesday) because it’s going to be huge.

The puck delivery is 4:45 pm MT on Sportsnet.


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