Five seconds left in regulation Curtis Glencross scores an equalizer for the Calgary Flames. The score was tied 4-4. The play was simple as it would get for a desperate score: get a shot on net, crash the net, and hope it bounces your way. Scott Clemmensen stopped a shot by Johnny Gaudreau. Glencross piled it in. If he didn't get it, the two other Flames by him would have done so. The goal completed a comeback from a 2-4 deficit that was erased in the final few minutes in regulation.
The Flames did what the Edmonton Oilers did last night. Karri Ramo was pulled with roughly three and a half minutes left. The difference is obvious: the Flames got their goals. The first success from that decision was similar the second one: a goal from in-close off a rebound. Jiri Hudler actually put it off Clemmensen, which bounced off Andy Greene's leg, and then trickled into the net. That goal was a bit over two minutes before Glencross' equalizer. The Flames definitely threw everything they could at the net and were crashing the net constantly from the game's beginning. Except this actually succeeded.
Overtime was necessary and reflected much of the game in regulation. Both teams had glorious opportunities generated to score. They were denied either by Ramo or Clemmensen or missing the net entirely. A shootout was necessary. That shootout went 1-2 and so the Flames can claim another comeback result and add another two points in the standings.
The New Jersey Devils? They get a point and a lot of anger. From the fans, definitely. Likely from the players and coaches about the result too. A point on the road against a Western Conference team with a good record after getting rolled for two periods the night before is not a bad result on it's own. Not at all. But based on the score and general run of play, it should have been two and in regulation. When a team is up 4-2 and the other team is pulling their goalie with three-plus minutes left, the final score should've been in New Jersey's favor. An empty net goal would've been vital. There was none and the closest effort for one was a boneheaded decision by Jaromir Jagr. I'll get to that in a moment.
I suspect plenty will proclaim that this is indicative of something wrong with the team or (more likely given the initial reactions I'm reading) Peter DeBoer. I'm hopeful that since most of you read this site, most of you all are not going to fall into Baylessian/ESPNesque cliches about "clutchness" and other non-fact-based arguments. Again, the Flames got their two comeback goals by just crashing the net and putting home rebounds. The difference was they got bounces to succeed in the third period that they didn't have in the first two periods. It's not like there was brilliant gameplan drawn up that the Devils couldn't figure out. Or that the Flames did something so much better than the Devils. It's akin to the "long ball" strategy in soccer. That is, boot the ball long and hope someone on your team gets it and does something when they do. On Friday night, it didn't work out. It did tonight. It's frustrating and infuriating. I'm certainly not happy about it. But it's not as if it does not happen to other teams. It wasn't the even the only stunning comeback by a team with a extra skater on this Saturday night. A new coach or a new whatever doesn't prevent this. What would have done so would be an empty netter and/or better luck with respect to rebounds. Or, I don't know, eating the puck behind the net to kill of more seconds instead of giving it right back to the other team.
Of course, there was overtime and a shootout. The Devils did have some glorious shots set up and Ramo came up big. I thought Cammalleri - and I think he did too - was going to win it with a one-timer around the half-way mark. Likewise, the Devils held off the Flames when they hit back and killed off the last 49 seconds from a Andy Greene penalty. In the shootout, Cammalleri scored to prove that Jacob Josefson wouldn't be the lone scorer; Adam Henrique lost the puck in a chance to win it; and Travis Zajac couldn't tie it. A better effort that the majority of last season's shootouts but still a loss that could have and should have been a win. Five seconds left. It still stings.
The Game Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The NHL.com Devils Time on Ice Log | The Natural Stat Trick Corsi Charts
The Opposition Opinion: Please visit Matchsticks and Gasoline for any Flames opinion.
The Game Highlights: From NHL.com, here's a video filled with sweet passes by Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr as well as a rebound-based comeback effort by the Flames:
EAT THE PUCK: Jaromir Jagr had a weird night. Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and him led the way for much of the first two periods in attacking the Flames. But they didn't generate a lot of shots. The attempts they created often didn't get to Ramo. That said, Jagr did have an awesome back-hand pass to Cammalleri that put the Devils up 2-0 in the first period. That pass and some of his other shifts were the peaks of his performance. His valley was costly.
Late in the game, the Devils iced the puck. But Jagr impressively hustled and boxed out a Flame to erase the icing. The ScotiaBank Saddledome boards were lively and Jagr read them perfectly at that time. He pushed the puck away to get it behind the net and he got to it. And then he flung it into the slot to nobody but another Calgary Flame. This was at roughly 22 seconds left. Jagr assumed a Devil followed him and would pot in an empty netter. His assumption proved costly as the Flames were able to break out, get guys into the zone, and get that goal with five seconds left. Had he stayed on it or skated it along the boards, precious seconds would have gone away. It was a bad decision and ultimately played a role in the team dropping a point.
Not Just Calgary Getting Bounces: Another reason to rue the result was the fact that the Devils got some bounces of their own for goals. Travis Zajac scored on a power play near the end of the second period off of one. Adam Henrique rang a shot off the frame, Zajac was in the right spot by the crease to just slide it in. That made it 3-1 and caused Devils fans, at the time, to breathe a little easier. Tuomo Ruutu got a bigger break in the third. He skated up ice with Michael Ryder in a 2-on-1 of sorts. Ryder's pass made the puck wobbly and that contributed to Ruutu skying the shot over Ramo in the slot. But a backchecking defender crashed into Ramo, the puck bounced back to Ruutu, and he slid it in to make it 4-2. These were fortunate breaks and the Devils did well not to squander them. But the Flames got three similar plays in the third period and wiped that away.
Throwback: Scott Clemmensen got the first start for a goaltender not named Cory Schneider this season for the Devils. He looked like he did when he replaced Martin Brodeur when he suffered a significant injury back in 2008-09. Clemmensen looked shaky on his feet, never really got set, but someone got in front of many pucks. That's how he played tonight. The Flames caught onto this quickly and crashed the net in the hopes of getting loose pucks and rebounds past him. They had some glorious opportunities wasted by misses and a few surprising stops by Clemmensen. It worked out in the third period, certainly. While Clemmensen didn't give up any really bad rebounds - the goals were all so close to the net - there were a lot of contentious moments after his first stop on several shots. A defense can only do so much. While I don't think it's fair to pin the loss entirely on him with three rebound goals. I don't think his performance tonight really convinced anyone that he should be the definitive #2 goalie for this season. Getting frozen on Glencross' first goal - a snipe off the crossbar and in, thanks to a pass up-ice by Zajac that was denied - certainly didn't.
As far as the question of whether Schneider should've got this game, I don't think he should have. While I'd like to think Schneider in net makes this a win, he really needed a night off. He had a very busy night in Edmonton in a shutout performance. He started twenty games in a row. This was the third night of four game road trip through Western Canada. This was the second half of a back-to-back. At some point, the #2 goalie on the active roster has to be given a game. He'll be well rested and ready for a sort of homecoming on Tuesday night.
Sharing the Pain: The Zajac line got out-shot at evens but they weren't alone. I have to apologize for my earlier comments during the game that the Stephen Gionta line was getting hammered. No, it was the other bottom six line that was struggling. Jacob Josefson, Tuomo Ruutu, and Michael Ryder may have contributed a goal as a unit, but they got pinned back early. Only later on did they show some good spurts, but they were doing plenty of chasing tonight.
Defensively, the pairing of Greene and Damon Severson got plenty of shifts where they were hemmed in their own end. They each got out-shot at evens by nine. They didn't really do anything wrong. Greene's penalty was slashing TJ Brodie's stick out of his hands, but that denied a breakaway in OT so I can understand that foul. Severson was just careless with the puck at times in overtime, but he didn't really falter in a big way in regulation. It was just that Calgary's best players - Mark Giordano, Brodie, the Sean Monahan line - won their match-ups significantly.
Overall, the Corsi charts at Natural Stat Trick tell the tale of the game in regulation. Both teams just had stretches of really strong shifts that were responded by the opposition. In all situations, attempts were 58-60, favoring Calgary. It was 55-49 at evens, favoring New Jersey. The Devils hung with a quick team for most of the night because their puck movement was generally good and they didn't lose the puck often when just gaining the zone. Their main issue was just stopping the waves of Flames attacks when they would come - especially in the final few minutes. That'll happen when a team is down by a goal or two and they think they can make a comeback. But even earlier in the game, it was just back-and-forth. Not that Ramo or Clemmensen were particularly amazing or are good goalies, but they made some impressive stops at times to keep that pace going.
Patrik Rising?: Patrik Elias and his line had a good game. Elias hooked up Henrique with a beautiful pass in front early in the game for a score. The line out-shot their competition at evens and all three players were more active at putting rubber on net. Henrique, Elias, and Martin Havlat combined for seven shots. That's much better than last night. I hope DeBoer continues this combination together, I think there may be more good nights to come from them.
Penalty Kill Streak Over: Josh Jooris' put back on the power play in the third period ended a 23-situation long penalty killing streak. Such a goal was bound to happen. Kris Russel's shot hits off Michael Ferland in front and Jooris puts home the loose puck past Clemmensen. It was an unfortunate bounce that would become the story of the third for Calgary. Still, the Devils did a very good job on the PK. They had to make six kills thanks to some on-the-point refereeing tonight. They got five out of six and conceded only five shots on net in the process. It's still a far cry better than what was seen in October and at the beginning of the month. Clearances were consistently put off the boards and glass as necessary. Battles were won with necessity. I think the Devils' PK will be OK with streak being over. It was after Jooris' score.
Shootout: With a win this season, no one can say it was automatic. It's still a shootout so there's not much to analyze. I just wished Henrique didn't lose the puck. At least get a shot on target with a chance to win it.
Your Take: I'm sure you're not happy with how things went down. I'm not either. What do you have to say about it now that it's set in? Was this game a better performance than the 2-0 win in Edmonton? (I'll say it: I think the Devils did play better in spite of the final score.) What do you think the Devils need to work on before their game in Vancouver? Who was the best Devil on the ice in your eyes from this game? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the shootout loss in the comments.
Thanks to everyone who stayed up late to comment in the Gamethread and those who followed along the tweets from @InLouWeTrust. Thank you for reading.