That couldn’t have been straightforward.
Lower than a half hour earlier than puck drop on the Flames’ remaining Battle of Alberta, Cole Caufield’s first NHL goal plunged one more stake into the guts of Calgary’s playoff probabilities.
The rookie’s extra time purpose gave the Habs wins on consecutive nights to place Montreal up eight factors on Calgary, closing the door on any semblance of hope remaining for the Flames.
A loss by the Flames three hours later confirmed what many believed to be true when Calgary misplaced their sixth to Ottawa or their remaining matchup in opposition to Montreal: they’re completed.
Requested after Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Oilers in the event that they came upon about Montreal’s win earlier than the sport, the Flames lone purpose scorer mentioned it was information to him.
“Discovered from you proper now,” Johnny Gaudreau mentioned.
You may wager he was within the minority.
Both means, the Flames spent the opening ten minutes chasing Connor McDavid and the Oilers unsuccessfully, because the NHL’s main scorer celebrated his four-hundredth recreation by selecting up two of his three factors on the evening a mere seven minutes in.
The primary got here on an influence play slapper made attainable by a Juuso Valimaki penalty that drew vital criticism from coach Darryl Sutter afterwards.
The second got here minutes later when Ethan Bear transformed a McDavid move.
“Whenever you get down two it’s robust on this constructing,” Sutter mentioned.
“You try to get by way of the primary 4 of 5 minutes and preserve tempo with them, however you took that penalty proper up the intestine – that’s a foul hooking penalty – you already know they’re going to return with a little bit extra leap and also you give them an influence play early, they’re going to reap the benefits of it they usually did.”
At a time when the Flames wanted desperately to open the sport properly, they struggled to maintain up, outshot 7-1 to begin.
“We in all probability gave up ten scoring probabilities within the first ten minutes,” mentioned Christopher Tanev, whose membership misplaced six of ten to the Oilers this yr.
“Most likely ought to have been 5 – 6 nothing if Marky [Jacob Markstrom] didn’t play so properly. He gave us an opportunity to win. Clearly we didn’t get the job completed.”
Give this Flames crew credit score for no less than this a lot – they didn’t quit.
All through their fruitless stretch run, the one factor nobody can query is the work ethic that dogged them earlier within the season, prompting the teaching change.
Nobody might have blamed annoyed Flames followers on Saturday for altering the channel early in what appeared to be one other a kind of McDavid-led routs that end with the Flames down by a half dozen.
However they discovered a approach to cease the bleeding and make a recreation of it.
Gaudreau’s rebound off a Matthew Tkachuk shot halfway by way of the second closed the hole to 2-1 and led to a tense end wherein Mike Smith stood his floor till the Oilers scored twice with the Flames’ goalie pulled.
A crossbar hit by Gaudreau earlier within the interval might need flipped the script in a season filled with might’ves and will’ves.
With six video games left, the hill is just too steep to climb for a crew that merely isn’t adequate.
The gamers had little to say after the sport, as not a lot may be mentioned anymore anyway.
“We misplaced the sport so it actually doesn’t matter to be sincere,” mentioned Tanev when requested about his crew doing properly to battle again in robust circumstances.
“We weren’t prepared initially and it price us. Clearly we’re disillusioned in how we didn’t get the job completed tonight.”