The Anaheim Ducks showed little of the urgency they needed to prolong their 25-game home unbeaten streak against the Calgary Flames, and it cost them the win at Honda Center Monday night. In fact, neither team lit up the scoreboard as Calgary scampered to a 2-0 victory. Funny thing was, it didn’t feel like there was a 13-year streak at stake. More like the Ducks, still missing several key players and with Ryan Getzlaf making his season’s debut, just haven’t yet found their stride.
Sean Monahan scored the winning goal and Mike Smith stopped 43 shots to pace Calgary to the win and garner his 34th career shutout.
The Flames (2-1-0) broke a Honda Center losing streak dating back to 2004. The Ducks (1-1-1) had beaten Calgary at home the last 25 time the two teams played. They had also beaten the Flames nine of the last ten times the two teams faced off (in either rink), dating back to 2015.
Calgary killed five penalties on their way to the victory. Goalie Mike Smith recorded his second win in a row. The Ducks have not scored a power play goal yet this season, in 11 opportunities.
For Calgary, according to coach Glen Gulutzan, the difference was special teams: “Our power play finally got clicking there on the fourth one, and the penalty kill did an excellent job,” he said. “At the end, all the penalty killers were great. I just thought we had a little bit more moxie than at other times.”
In the Calgary dressing room, players were proud of ending the losing streak that had begun when some were as young as seven. “It’s a nice relief,” Mikael Backlund said. “Huge win and it’s a great feeling. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done.”
Goalie Mike Smith added, “When you play a team that long and you’re not on the winning part of it, it gets old pretty fast. Tonight was a night where pucks were hitting me, and we were able to score some goals.” The funny thing is, Smith has a sterling record versus the Ducks, now posting a 13-8-3 mark against the team. He played them often being out in the Phoenix desert from 2011-17. And think about it–that was with a relatively weak team, the Coyotes. Being behind a stronger group such as the defense of Calgary must have made the win seem easy.
Nobody asked Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle about the streak after the game. What does he care? Instead, the questions related to the team’s performance on the night. He also pointed to special teams as the deciding factor, “You know, if you look at the penalties, they were pretty much evened out during the course of the game. They scored a power play goal, and that was the difference in the game.” He added, “We missed the net far too many times when we had clear-cut opportunities.”
Carlyle took heart that his team did better as the game wore on, but he was unhappy about the Ducks’ start. “We got more chances in the second half of the game again. That’s been our Achilles heel in these last three games, that we haven’t had a start that we could be proud of.”
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf, making his season debut, echoed Carlyle’s disappointment in the Ducks’ persistence. “I don’t know if we did a good enough job getting in there for second and third opportunities. We directed a lot of pucks at the net, but I don’t think we had any rebound opportunities until the third period.”
Neither team scored in the opening period, with the Flames enjoying a narrow lead in shots, 10-9.
Calgary opened up a lead late in period two when Sean Monahan scored on the power play. Johnny Gaudreau sent a cross-ice pass from the blueline to Kris Versteeg on the low right side of the zone. He chipped the puck backwards into the slot to Monahan, who put a wrist shot past John Gibson with 3:33 left to play in the period. The Ducks outshot the Flames 17-10 in the period.
The Flames added an insurance goal by Mikael Backlund at 6:19 of the third period. Backlund put a wrist shot past Gibson’s glove on the long side from the left faceoff dot. Michael Frolik fed Backlund after carrying the puck down the left boards. The secondary assist went to Matthew Tkachuk. Third period shots were even more in Anaheim’s favor, at 17-9, than had been the case in period two.
If you look at those numbers, the Ducks did pour on the energy in periods two and three. Often, they just didn’t get the breaks. Late in period three, a puck came to the net. There was a scramble. Somehow, it got flipped up into the air and looked to be going it. It skipped off the post and stayed out, bouncing down into the side slot area and out of harm’s way.
Take that for what it’s worth–either the Ducks had the chance but blew it, the goalie had a chance to save the shutout and did, or the puck just wasn’t bouncing Anaheim’s way. Any way you slice it, it’s a new piece of history that will take place when Calgary rolls into town again, with no streak alive at all.
The Ducks’ captain, C Ryan Getzlaf, made his season debut against Calgary after being injured to start the year. . . . Even with Getzlaf back, the Ducks have five regulars on IR . . . . RW Patrick Eaves is close to returning, having taken part in his first full practice this weekend . . . . LW Nick Ritchie, who missed his second consecutive game, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. . . . Ondrej Kase went out of Monday’s game with an upper body injury and did not return . . . . Seventeen of the 18 skaters in Calgary’s lineup have participated in all three of the team’s games . . . . The Flames may debut RW Jaromir Jagr on Wednesday versus the Kings. . . . Jagr is practicing with the team while they judge his readiness level.