Huber-Doh! Flames Winger Huberdeau Passes on Shots in OT loss to Kings
Jonathan Huberdeau had a good game but might have had an even better one if he shot in overtime instead of making passing plays to Calgary Flames teammates.
They may not have the same sort of rivalry they did when Matthew Tkachuk was a member of the Calgary Flames, but a Pacific Division playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings would certainly be entertaining.
At least if Thursday night's 4-3 overtime loss to the Kings was any indication of what it might look like.
The back-and-forth action was electric at times, especially in the third period . Seven goals, with plenty more that could have gone in if not for solid goaltending and a few posts. A penalty shot. And finally an edge-of-your-seat overtime that ended when Adrian Kempe finished off a two-on-one with Viktor Arvidsson as the Flames ran out of gas in Game 3 of their four-game road trip before the holiday break.
Jonathan Huberdeau owned the missed opportunity for the extra point, kicking himself for a couple of passes that didn't pan out in the extra time, but he did start things off on the right foot with a goal on the Calgary Flames' first shot.
Collecting a perfectly placed pass from Milan Lucic — yep, his point streak continues — Huberdeau made a great five-hole move to open the scoring just 3:23 into the game.
They lost some momentum to a penalty parade and the Kings tied things up before the end of the opening period. Sean Walker took a shot from the point, and it bounced around after hitting Gabe Vilardi, eventually sneaking past Flames goaltender Dan Vladar — who got his first start of the roadie in the team's toughest matchup.
Not the best period with just three shots on goal, but the Flames did get some stellar stops from Vladar to keep things even. The second period was scoreless but the Flames looked to steal the flow and more than tripled their first-period shot count.
Another flaw on a still fairly impressive night was that they didn't play their best hockey until a 10-second span in the third period put them in a corner. Phillip Danault scored 1:29 into the final frame when left uncovered in the slot by both Huberdeau and Milan Lucic. Then Blake Lizotte made it a 3-1 Kings lead 10 seconds later, batting the puck out of the air after Vilardi's individual effort to get a shot on Vladar.
Suddenly, the Flames found an extra gear. Tyler Toffoli got them to within one after hitting a crossbar and a post earlier in the game. And Dillon Dube tied it on a great pass from Noah Hanifin after a faceoff win by Elias Lindholm.
"We started to play faster, with some urgency," Dube said on Sportsnet 960 radio post-game. "Could have done that for the majority of the game, would have been better off for sure.
"But it was good for our team to get a point."
They probably could have had two and made up ground on the Kings in the race for the division. Huberdeau had a couple of prime opportunities to shoot from great spots after making good plays to keep the puck in his possession, but twice chose to make a fancy pass rather than fire the puck at Pheonix Copley.
“I think you saw it. I’ve gotta shoot," Huberdeau told Postmedia's Wes Gilbertson on the scene. "It’s always been like that. It sucks. I gotta shoot. Obviously, I try to make a pass for an empty net for the other guy, but I have to keep it simple, shoot the puck.”
His head coach said the same thing.
Not that all of Flames fandom wasn't yelling that at their television sets in the excitement of overtime.
#Flames coach Darryl Sutter after a 4-3 overtime loss in Los Angeles: “Probably the only thing you’d want back is shoot the puck in overtime. Their top goal-scorer shot it in the net.” https://t.co/oXVI335JME
— Wes Gilbertson (@WesGilbertson) December 23, 2022
“Probably the only thing you’d want back is shoot the puck in overtime," said Calgary Flames bench boss Darryl Sutter, alluding to Huberdeau's decisions. "Their top goal-scorer shot it in the net.”
The only thing the coach had wrong was the Kings' top goal-scorer. That honour is Vilardi's — although he did score, just not in overtime. Kempe's OT winner has him second on the squad, one behind Vilardi's 14.
You might want to bet the over on Huberdeau shots in Friday's contest against the Ducks in Anaheim. It's the Calgary Flames' final outing before Christmas.