‘Pathetic Effort’ in Nashville Submarines Finish to Flames Road Trip
The Calgary Flames had a chance to finish their road trip strong but ended up with a 2-1-2 record after a 2-1 loss to the Predators in Nashville. Nikita Zadorov called it a “pathetic effort.”
A couple of nights in Nashville sometimes gets you into trouble. For the Calgary Flames, it sure looked like one of those visits that got away from them.
Whether or not they were well behaved in one of the most entertaining cities on the NHL circuit, the players sure looked like they ran out of gas at the end of a five-game road trip. (Yes, they left the fresh-legged Jakob Pelletier off the active roster for the fifth straight game).
That doesn’t mean they couldn’t have won the 2-1 decision against the Nashville Predators. Despite an abysmal game statistically and from an eye-test perspective, the Flames were in it until the final buzzer.
That was thanks mostly thanks to a handful of engaged skaters and the goaltender. Jacob Markstrom made 25 of 27 stops, including a couple of highlight-reel efforts.
Juuse Saros was stellar at the other side, too, with arguably his biggest save coming in the dying seconds when Tyler Toffoli got a good luck on a one-timer from the high slot.
But the scoring chances for the Calgary Flames were few and far between.
They had 17 at even strength over three periods. But less than a handful of those were of the high-danger variety. And you’re not beating Saros with anything other than that.
The Preds, meanwhile, had almost as many high-danger chances as the Flames had regular ones.
Their powerplay was impotent. They made too many mistakes in allowing the Preds those strong scoring chances. It was just an ineffective evening for a team that fell flat in a road finale that could have turned a decent road trip into a really good one.
“It was a pathetic effort by us. First two periods, for sure,” a blunt Nikita Zadorov, the Flames’ only goal-scorer on the evening, told reporters post-game. “We were a step behind. Energy wasn't there. Commitment wasn't there. We weren’t shooting.
“We were making bad plays, giving up too many chances. Just all-around, bad effort for us.”
It happens. But if there was any kind of fatigue on a road trip that featured five games in nine nights, it was probably more mental than physical.
The Predators took a 2-0 lead in the first period when Roman Josi banked his shot in off Zadorov and then Juuso Parssinen was able to take a few whacks at the loose puck in the blue paint with forwards Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund unable to clear the crease.
Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter didn’t like either of them.
“I didn't like the goals against in the first period,” Sutter said.
“We had guys laying in the crease on both goals. Our guys. Generally, it's the other way around.”
To make up for the lack of early defence, the Flames had hoped to generate some offence. But that wasn’t coming easily on this night either. Especially through the first 40 minutes. The Flames managed 18 shots on goal through the first two periods and more than doubled that with 21 over the final 20 minutes.
Tyler Toffoli had a goal called back for another of the puzzling distinct kicking motion rulings that seem to haunt the Calgary Flames. But there should have been plenty of other opportunities earlier and after.
“I think after two periods, we had some guys with no shots,” Sutter said. “So we're counting on some guys to produce a little bit. Seen it on the trip. It wasn't just tonight.”
Finishing with a 2-1-2 record on the five-game road swing, the Flames took six of a possible 10 points. To Sutter, that’s a success by the most basic of measurements — getting more points than games played. But they left something on the table, and that likely spoiled the long flight home.
“No excuse,” Zadorov said. “We have a goal. We have a game plan and know how we should play and have to play. It just wasn't there tonight.”
“The game tonight was to make it not good — great. We didn't get two points, so just a good trip.”