A story we’ve become too familiar with: Flames push back late in third period

The Calgary Flames made a late push in the third period during Tuesday’s tilt against the Chicago Blackhawks. The comeback kids, who famously played some of the best third period hockey in the NHL last season, continues to shine in the final minutes.

But on Dec. 31, they weren’t able to pull off the comeback, losing 5-3.

The Flames went scoreless and gave up 3 goals in the first period; eerily similar to the Canucks game that came a couple of nights before. In that game, goaltender David Rittich was pulled for allowing 3 goals on only 7 shots.

But against the Blackhawks, the Flames opted to keep Rittich in net and in the second period, Rittich let up only one goal making it 4-0.

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In the final seconds of the second period, it was Sam Bennett who scored the Flames’ first goal to get them on the board. The Flames finished the period down 4-1.

But it was the third period where things got a little more interesting.

Michael Frolik and Sean Monahan both scored late in the period to bring the Flames to a close 4-3 deficit. The Flames battled hard and had numerous scoring chances in the final minutes of the game.

But, it was Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks who sealed the deal with his open net shot and second goal of the game to make the final 5-3. Kane closed out the decade in style, ensuring his stature as the best player of the 2010s.

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“A little push at the end,” Matthew Tkachuk said to NHL.com. “Gets everybody fired up and gets energy in the building. But ….”

A frustrating loss for all.

The Flames have been clearly failing to play a full 60 minutes … as cliché as that sounds. Lately they’ve been dull in first periods and atrocious in second periods. And sometimes they’ll find a spark in the third where they’ll muscle up a comeback, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

Bennett, who played some of his best hockey this season on Tuesday said, “We showed tons of fight in the third period. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t find a way to get that last one in.”

“At the end of the day, we didn’t start on time,” Interim Head Coach Geoff Ward said of Tuesday’s loss.

It’s a notion, we are becoming more and more familiar with. And the best way for the Flames to respond is to score goals and defend consistently throughout all periods.

The Dec. 27 win over the Edmonton Oilers would be a good example. The Flames allowed one goal (Conor McDavid) in the first period, but responded with scoring two of their own (Andrew Mangiapane, Tkachuk). Then, in the second period the Flames didn’t hold back with goals from Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm. The Flames were able to hold back McDavid and the Oilers for the remainder of the game as Backlund sealed the deal with a third period goal.

The Flames played intensely throughout all periods of the game and won 5-1 in the first instalment of the Battle of Alberta.

In the following two games, the Flames missed the mark on playing a full 60 minutes like they did against Edmonton. And hopefully as we head into the new year and a new decade of Flames hockey, the team is able to find some consistency in their play and work towards playing a full hockey game.