Body slumped over the boards, head resting in his arms, Matthew Tkachuk’s state of disbelief captured the feeling of every Calgary Flames fan in the building, and so many more watching on their flat screens.
The Flames winger had a few chances on the night. But none like this one. After a mind-boggling stick sweep by Jaccob Slavin erased a Rasmus Andersson’s attempt, Tkachuk had nothing but net. But as he smacked at the loose puck bouncing along the line, Sebastian Aho – remember that name – swatted the rubber out of harm’s way.
It was a crushing moment. And the Flames had a few of them in the 2-1 overtime loss. They were millimetres from avoiding overtime so many times.
Earlier, Teuvo Teravainen, made a last-second save when Dillon Dube’s shot slipped through Freddie Andersen and trickled toward the line. Teravainen fished it out and pulled it away from the net with just one hand on his stick.
There were missed breakaway opportunities. And Noah Hanifin had a penalty shot in the first period but Andersen got just enough of the five-hole attempt with his paddle to steer it inches wide of the far post.
“Just another one that didn’t go in,” a disappointed Hanifin said after the game.
String of losses frustrating for Flames
The Flames got one point out of it but were hoping to rebound from back-to-back regulation losses with a win. Despite keeping their Eastern Conference doppelganger to 26 shots and allowing only one player to score against them on the night, they couldn’t come up with that meaningful second point.
It was eating at Calgary Flames netminder Jacob Markstrom afterward.
“We didn’t get two points, so it wasn’t good,” Markstrom said when asked if the team could see the positives after playing a pretty good game. “We didn’t get two points and now we haven’t got two points for three games in a row. That’s not good for our group and not good for our team and not good enough for me.”
Aho’s defensive play was stellar, but he was also 100 per cent of the Hurricanes offence on the night. He scored early, giving the Canes a 1-0 lead just over four minutes in with a deflection for his 12th of the year. His 13th came on a strong individual effort when his rush was disturbed by Elias Lindholm’s backcheck but Aho managed to stick with the puck and force it past Markstrom.
He admitted he was a bit lucky on the play after the game, but players as gifted as Aho tend to make their own luck.
Aho on his OT winner: "I had some space and time to build up build up my speed, and I decided early on to take guy one on one. But they made a nice switch there, little bit side pressure there and he kind of catch me already, but I got a break there."
— Cory Lavalette (@corylav) December 10, 2021
Hanifin gets redemption after missing first NHL penalty shot
Former Hurricane Hanifin missed his penalty shot, but he did score the tying goal in the second period on a point shot that was partially screened.
Opportunities were there to take advantage of five power plays on the night. But the Calgary Flames couldn’t score against the tight-checking Hurricanes, who run an aggressive penalty kill.
“We have to be a lot better,” Hanifin said. “A game like that where you know it’s going to be tight, two good teams, when you get that many power plays, you’ve got to capitalize.”
“We’re a team that expects to win. It’s frustrating. That’s obviously a good team and I thought we played a solid game but like Marky said, it’s not good enough.”