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Calgary Flames

Flames Losing Skid Hits Six As Devils Defeat Them 3-2



Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames

A few games into their losing skid, Calgary Flames centre Mikael Backlund said something about stopping the bleeding.

If two consecutive games with points served as a tourniquet, the outcome in New Jersey ripped off the scab.

The Flames are gushing losses. Their winless streak is now at six straight after a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Devils on Tuesday night.

You could argue the Calgary Flames were the better team for the better part of the night. But in the end, only the points matter. And the Flames came away with nothing in New Jersey. Despite outshooting their hosts.

They started well with Nazem Kadri scoring the first goal about 12 minutes into the game, with the Flames carrying the early play. On the powerplay, Kadri leaned into his shot from inside the right circle and roofed it over goaltender Vitek Vanacek. But after a pair of New Jersey goals were called off — one on the offside and another for a distinct kicking motion —  the Devils finally got the tying goal. Defenceman Ryan Graves was trailing on an odd-man rush and beat Jacob Markstrom early in the second period. Former Flames defenceman Dougie Hamilton gave the Devils the lead 10 minutes later on the powerplay.

Tyler Toffoli gave the Calgary Flames some hope with a powerplay goal of his own early in the third period, but things fell apart again. Nico Hischier gave the Devils the winning goal a little past the halfway mark as he blazed past a turning MacKenzie Weegar. The Devils captain found the soft spot on Markstrom, slipping the puck under his pad. Nikita Zadorov got stuck deep in the Devils zone. Kadri couldn’t get on the right side of the puck. He just watched as Hamilton sprung Hischier with a long pass.

Head coach Darryl Sutter suggested this week that maybe the team is a little complacent.

Flames back end looks fatigued

Are they also tired? Probably. With Chris Tanev and Michael Stone hurting, and Connor Mackey given the night off, newcomers Nick DeSimone and Dennis Gilbert teamed up to form the bottom pairing. They didn’t play a ton of minutes — as has been the trend the past few games. Instead, the Flames played Weegar, Zadorov, Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin heavily.

Sutter’s words from Monday night work for Tuesday as well.

“You could see at times in the third period, they were on the ice too much,” Sutter said after Monday’s 4-3 OT loss to the Islanders. “It has nothing to do with effort or anything like that. I think they were just out of gas at times, and didn’t quite have the execution. And that’s hurting us right now.”

Sutter blasted the supposed organizational depth as well on Tuesday morning, telling reporters on the scene that their current injury situation — which we later found out included winger Jonathan Huberdeau — is exposing them.

“It’s too much. We’ve got guys, what did we play ’em last night, 23 to 27 minutes?” Sutter started. That means those guys are doing everything they can and this depth stuff we talked about in the summer, it’s a bunch of bullsh!t.

“There isn’t one guy in training camp that even took a step towards being a sixth or seventh or eighth defenceman and we’re playing them now. So it’s time to ripen the apple a bit for them.”

Or maybe stick the apple in that gaping would. The bleeding needs to be stopped.

At least the team is putting strong stretches of play together. If they can figure out how to do that for a full 60 minutes, they’ll start putting some wins together.

They’ll get their next shot to do it against the Bruins in Boston on Thursday.