The Calgary Flames have flashed some resilience of late.
In Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, they were reminded that you can’t always count on a comeback.
The Flames, who arrived in Canada’s capital on a 2-0-1 run, were unable to extend on a three-game point streak.
The bright side is that Calgary’s prized puck-stopping prospect Dustin Wolf, in his second NHL start and first of this season, certainly didn’t look overwhelmed in the visiting crease. The 22-year-old was credited with 34 saves.
“I thought he was excellent,” praised Flames head coach Ryan Huska. “I thought he had some good poise in the net tonight. He was very calm. The one nice thing that kind of amazes me when I watch Dustin is when pucks hit him, they don’t go anywhere. He sucks them in. He has an ability to control his rebounds really well. So I thought he handled himself well.”
Trouble is, he didn’t get a whole lot of offensive support.
Blake Coleman had the lone goal for the travellers. On the second half of a back-to-back set, the Flames seemed to run out of gas in the third period, mustering only two shots on net over the final 20 minutes.
Mathieu Joseph scored Saturday’s icebreaker for the Senators. Joseph, while jostling for position with Chris Tanev, managed to get a piece of Jake Sanderson’s point shot for a nifty deflection.
Drake Batherson doubled the lead on a second-period man-advantage. After a blocker save on Jakob Chychrun, the rebound bounced high in the air and Batherson was there to chop it home as soon as it landed.
After a couple of close-calls, including a failed breakaway attempt by Jonathan Huberdeau and a pinged post by Adam Ruzicka, the Flames finally found the back of the net with just over four minutes remaining in the middle frame.
This was another showcase for forward call-up Martin Pospisil, who chipped the puck past Travis Hamonic to create a two-on-one and ultimately set up Coleman for a no-doubter with a sweet saucer pass. For the 23-year-old Pospisil, already with a couple of snipes on his resume, that marked his first assist at the NHL level.
While the Flames had erased deficits in each of their previous three outings, the Senators squashed any hope of a comeback with a pair of goals in an 82-second span early in the third.
Nikita Zadorov, in the spotlight after Friday’s reports that he has requested a trade out of Calgary, was behind his own net when he was stripped of the puck by Batherson. That costly turnover started a tic-tac-toe sequence that ended with an easy finish by Rourke Chartier.
Hamonic, who wore the Flaming C for three seasons from 2017-20, fired through traffic for an insurance marker.
“We went into the third period on a power-play and didn’t get much done on that power-play, which I think gave them a little bit of momentum,” Huska told media at Canadian Tire Centre. “And then we made a mistake in our own zone, and things kind of snowballed from there.
“I thought the energy got sucked out of us after that goal.”
Wolf, the reigning MVP in the American Hockey League, was recalled from the Wranglers because Jacob Markstrom is dealing with an undisclosed injury. While the undersized netminder is now 1-1 at the highest level, he made some key saves behind a tired bunch and didn’t allow any groaners.
“I think the American League is pretty different from the NHL,” Wolf told reporters in Ottawa. “Those are some big men out there and it’s a lot tougher for myself to fight through screens, which I thought I did a pretty good job of tonight.
“At the end of the day, I felt really good. The result didn’t come, but it’s something certainly to build off of.”
The Flames will wrap this three-game road-trip with Tuesday’s matchup with the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre (5 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan). Markstrom could potentially return against the Habs. According to Huska: “Jacob is really close.”
Wes Gilbertson and Danny Austin have been covering the Flames for years and know what makes the team tick. Have questions? They have the answers – or the contacts to track them down. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org