CALGARY – Daryl Sutter has had a good week of reminding his players that they haven’t played off yet.
However, play-off style hockey is here.
They are good at getting used to it.
Like their loss two nights before the Colorado snowfall, the Flames found themselves struggling to make offense in a tough game where the rink seemed small.
This time it was an LA Kings Neutral Zone Trap that could have stopped Flames most of the evening in a game that ultimately decided to a shootout.
A Calgary club that has not lost two games in a row for more than two months, a 3-2 defeat could serve as a wake-up call to improve the way the team has played to rise to the top of the Pacific Division.
Detailed attention is more important, and execution is the key to success.
Intensity and frustration will increase.
“The NHL has a gradual trend in playing conditions and level of play from the first game of the year to the end,” says veteran Eric Goodbronson, who knows a thing or two about intensity.
“It’s a constant trend from several teams. At this time of year they become much more emotional.
“It simply came to our notice then. We have to be more desperate every night. ”
Three years ago it was difficult for the Flems to create frustration in the final 15 games as they were able to cruise to the Western Conference title.
In the playoffs they were immediately defeated.
There will not be an option under the limping shutter to finish.
This team is very smart, skilled and experienced to do it again.
Despite now having five-point cushions and games in hand, an isolated, hit-and-run Kings team on Thursday reminded Flames that things were getting harder and harder at this time of year.
“They play a good 1-3-1 game in the neutral zone and occasionally excite the teams,” said Johnny Goudreau, whose bread-and-butter zone entries were returned overnight.
“When you try to go through such a neutral zone, you often find yourself turning around.
“It simply came to our notice then. We turned Pak over, they scored and made it 1-0. “
It was a Gaudreau dump-in as he made his way to the bench, where Anje Kopita batted out of the air and Alex Yafalo quickly shifted the ice to finish while the flames scrambled to catch the play.
This gave the Kings a 1-0 lead in the third period against a host club that last sat in the NHL with just one win after two (they are now 1-12-2).
The positives revolved around a third-period comeback kick-starting with an early Powerplay goal from Goudreau, followed by a goodbranson point shot through Flemish’s fourth-line traffic that made them 2-1 with six minutes left.
Alas, Mikel Backlund lost his man in front two minutes later, allowing Victor Arvidson to bury a centering pass to send him overtime.
There Jacob Markstrom made six saves in an extra frame where Flames had to kill the Elias Lindhome penalty.
It emphasizes that Netminder deserves credit for stealing a point
Lias Anderson beats Markstrom to open the shootout where Backlund, Matthew Takachuk and Goudreau come up empty.
“They won the shootout,” said Sutter, whose club played without Oliver Killington in the last half of the third period when he faced the boards with a high stick.
“I thought we were fighting again. Johnny’s power play goal is a big goal and big kill in overtime.
“I thought we were lazy in the beginning, especially face to face.”
The Flames got better as the night wore on, but it wasn’t good enough to stop second-placed Kings Club, which reached Calgary’s five despite playing the night before in Edmonton.
“The work is not done by any stretch of the imagination,” said Goodbronson, whose club scored 32-28.
“We have a number in our head that we have to get ourselves to give a playoff berth, and we haven’t gotten there yet. So a lot of work has to be done. ”