After the Calgary Flames allowed a season-high seventh goal, a fan wearing a Johnny Gaudreau jersey was shown walking slowly, somberly toward the exit.
His heroes’ spirits had left the building long before that point of the third period.
In the end, the Flames fell 7-1 to their Pacific Division rival Vancouver Canucks. It was a total meltdown. But it shouldn’t have been a complete surprise. It’s not lip service that Calgary Flames head coach expressed concern during the team’s 10-game winning streak.
He worried about the goals that previously came in bunches deterring them from playing the right way for their opportunities. A focus on details had been waning, and the team was relying heavily on spectacular special teams.
It all came crashing down on Thursday.
The penalty kill unit that had been operating with 90-plus per cent on the season? A perfect 11 for 11 during the win streak? It allowed three goals against in a five-goal second period.
It spelled the end of former Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom’s return to play in front of the fans who once adored him.
Flames top players silenced, Canucks soared
Top players for the Canucks had arguably their best game of the season. J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat each had a pair of goals. Former Flames trade target Conor Garland had the other.
On the other side, the Calgary Flames stars were silenced – other than the harsh words Johnny Gaudreau had for the officials late in the game.
Gaudreau was handed a 10-minute misconduct after sharing his frustrations following a missed call on a high stick that smacked him in the face in the dying minutes.
Head coach Darryl Sutter looked almost amused at times as his team was penalized eight times and given a pair of misconducts.
The only Flames powerplay came in third period … and it ended in a shorthanded goal for the Canucks.
Elias Lindholm also fell short of a franchise record, blanked in his quest for a ninth straight game with a goal.
Only Andrew Mangiapane snapped the shutout bid for Thatcher Demko, scoring his 26th of the season. It was a beautiful but meaningless backhand with less than three minutes to play.
It was the end of a great run. And the team will surely focus on starting another. But it won’t be as easy to move past an embarrassment like that one overnight.