Oh no, not this again.
The Calgary Flames, after loading up on loser points last season, are 0-fer in overtime in the early stages of the 2023-24 campaign.
They’ve had a hat-trick of games go to a three-on-three session. No sudden-death success yet.
In fact, all three contests required a breakaway competition. No luck there, either.
There’s been talk around the league about fiddling with the current overtime format. The Flames might be the only team pushing to bring back ties.
“I thought, as the game went on, we continued to get better and better,” said Calgary’s head coach, Ryan Huska, after Saturday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders at the Saddledome. “If you give us a little bit more time, I think we probably end up winning in regulation. But that’s the way it goes.”
This, too, seems to be the way it goes.
The Flames, dating back to the start of last season, are 7-20 in games that stretch beyond 60 minutes.
The Islanders arrived at the Saddledome with the NHL’s worst extra-time record this fall. They changed that thanks to a string of clutch saves from star netminder Ilya Sorokin and then a top-shelf shot from Oliver Wahlstrom in the fourth round of the skills showdown.
A Flames beat reporter needs some sort of template for this familiar ending.
The team needs some sort of answer.
“Win in regulation,” deadpanned Flames winger Blake Coleman when asked about the potential solution to their OT issues. “It’s something we’re aware of and we continue to put in work on it. Unfortunately, that is the way it is. It kept us out of a playoff spot last year, and we have to correct it so that it doesn’t do that this year.
“But win in regulation … That’s the best way to stop that.”
Coleman was one of the guys who scored Saturday in regulation. In fact, the third-liner is now the Flames’ leading marksman, with five snipes so far.
Forward call-up Martin Pospisil continued to impress with the opening strike — made possible by a crafty bounce-pass from Nazem Kadri — and MacKenzie Weegar and Yegor Sharangovich found the back of the net as the locals erased a pair of third-period deficits to scratch out at least a single point.
Proof of his immediate impact, including three goals in seven appearances so far, Pospisil was rewarded with shifts in overtime. He could have ended the affair on a breakaway, but Sorokin slammed the five-hole as he tried to slide through a backhand.
“It hurts, you know? It could have been over,” Pospisil said. “It’s great when I get that trust from the coach. I really appreciate it. I feel bad that I didn’t score. Hopefully next time.”
Chin up, kid, because you’re not the only one who couldn’t bury on an all-alone opportunity.
Sharangovich scored on a slick move in the opening round of the shootout, but then Jonathan Huberdeau lost the handle on his attempted deke and Sorokin stopped both Rasmus Andersson and Connor Zary.
Huska didn’t tap Elias Lindholm or Andrew Mangiapane or captain Mikael Backlund, although that’s hardly a surprise if you check their recent stats.
“Sharangovich has a skill-set. He’s a shootout-type player,” Huska said during his post-game presser. “We don’t have a ton of guys who have his skill-set. We have working skill, if you want to call it. So you have to find a way to capitalize before you get into the shootout.”
Before overtime too, apparently.
Saturday was 90s Night at the Saddledome, but this is one fad that the Flames don’t want to bring back.
Coleman stressed there were plenty of positives against the Islanders, saying he can see the confidence building and pointing out, “one more guy scores in the shootout, one more save, whatever it is, and we‘re sitting here with two points and everybody is talking about what a great comeback it is.”
“If five-on-five play keeps going, I like our chances to win that game,” said Coleman, whose crew is now 4-1-2 in their past seven and 6-8-3 overall. “We have to find a way to win these shootouts and overtime games, because they’re going to be valuable points down the road.
“But another deficit going into the third and a really good response from our group. We gave ourselves a chance to win … ”
Indeed they did, but this turned out to be a familiar ending.