MONTREAL – This, as Geoff Ward emphasized, is a disturbing pattern.
The Calgary Flames come out after an emotional victory and lay an egg.
This time a goose egg.
"This happened twice to us after a big emotional game in which we survived the next game without a problem," said the interim coach from Flames, whose open assessment after the game made him the fiercest flame of the night.
"It's the time of year when we can't. We have to be ready to play. We didn't. We struck, struck, struck, struck from the beginning. It took a long time until we put ourselves back in the hockey game. "
Outshot 17-7 in the first and 32-16 after two, the biggest positive result of an uninspired effort against a desperate Canadiens club was that David Rittich's performance (eventually 35 saves) somehow kept it in the third ,
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Unfortunately, it was Carey Price who, with 31 saves, brought the Flames winning streak to a standstill just 48 hours after the last game against Edmonton.
"Not enough emotional attachment to the game," said Ward. “We talked about how (Montreal) can potentially be a trap game and that we sit back too much in the game (Edmonton). We have to correct that. This is part of learning how to win. When the (previous) game is over, it is over and you have to move on to the next one. "
At the end of last month, the Flames followed a 5-1 drubbing by the Oilers in Edmonton with a 5-2 face-off against the Canucks.
This time the Flames barely threatened to hit Price and sent all their shots from the periphery without a second chance.
It was the sixth time that the Flames were leaders in the league this season.
Although it is only the first loss in six games, the shockingly poor performance has led to the wild inconsistency that has plagued the team this year.
While the rest of the ice hockey world chewed for the first time on the two-game lock handed down to Zack Kassian, the Flames spent a lot of time watching the Habs put on an ice skating clinic.
But there they were in the third, just a good shot away from somehow tying up the game – something the Flames did well all season long on the way to an unlikely perch on the Pacific Division with Arizona.
"We didn't really get in all night – we saw most of the pictures we took (Price)," said Ward, who was on a roll.
"If you don't work hard and do not play with structure, it is difficult to show off your skills. We have talked about that sometimes this league is not about playing a good hand, but about to play a bad hand well. We had the opportunity to play 20 minutes and win a game. "
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Unfortunately, they did not.
One of those nights.
One could argue that Flames' best chance of scoring was in the middle of the game when Ilya Kovalchuk almost put it in his own net during a belated flame penalty. Kovalchuk's centering pass bounced off Milan Lucic's skate and rolled all the way across the ice, just two meters from the empty net.
"We came out flat and they brought it to us all night," said Johnny Gaudreau. "We just have to get better. This is a big game that was crowned with a big home win. We wanted to start this road trip the right way and it was not our best attempt."
Jordan Weal's spin-around shot in the 13th minute hit Rittich in the 14th setting of the Habs frame.
The flames had only two shots at that time.
In the middle of a third period, in which the flames showed signs of life, Ryan Poehling put the game aside with his first of the year.
Next comes the Maple Leafs in Toronto, from which a good part of the Flames comes.
In this sense it is another big game.
How they respond will be instrumental in setting the tone for the team's league break, which begins on Sunday.