OTTAWA – A Tim Hortons’ promotion in the midst of a matinee affair at Canadian Tire Centre asked a father and his young son to match answers.
A no-win proposition for pops, as he was tested on his son’s favourite snack, superpower and Sens player.
After the duo missed the mark on two of three, the sad-faced youngster appeared unwilling to high-five dear old dad as the Jumbotron returned to action.
It mirrored the type of disappointment that was palpable later on in the Calgary Flames dressing room as Calgary somehow missed the free spot on their bingo card.
Facing a rebuilding Senators club that had yet to win in 2020, the Flames had a chance to go into the week-long break winning seven of eight to secure top spot in the Pacific.
Despite out-shooting the hosts 42-21, the Flames limped into the holiday with a 5-2 loss that underscored the team’s offensive woes this season.
Wrapping up a three-game eastern Canadian road trip that saw them lose to two of the league’s most vulnerable clubs, the Flames will have plenty of time to think about the tough road ahead.
“It’s absolutely dried up,” said Matthew Tkachuk of the offence on the road swing.
“We only had three goals in three games and two of them came in the last five minutes of a 4-0 game. I don’t really have an answer for ya there, otherwise we all would have changed it. I have no idea.
“We felt great about ourselves after the Toronto (2-1 shootout win), as we should have. If we get this one tonight we go into the break feeling really good about ourselves and try to gather some momentum for the last 32 games. But this didn’t allow us to feel that way tonight.”
Wes McCauley's a legend for this.
Brady and Matthew Tkachuk match up for the opening face off: pic.twitter.com/UFSJ0ibLu8
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 18, 2020
The only feel-good moment Flames fans experienced came on the opening draw when Brady and Matthew lined up on the wing, marking their fourth NHL tête-a-tête.
“We got that out of the way last year and this year…we weren’t going to do it,” said Matthew, who lost bragging rights to his baby brother for the first time in four outings.
“Wes (McCauley) was great – he said, ‘if I’m reffing, you guys have got to do the opening draw – your mom will love it.’ He snapped that back on me pretty good and seemed to destroy the rest of our team tonight too.”
Matthew gave his younger brother a light cross-check to the back after the draw, for funsies.
Brady finished the evening with a goal and an assist in a game that saw the Flames down 1-0 after the first period in which they outshot Ottawa 15-3.
“It’s always nice scoring in front of a bunch of people.”
The Flames, who continue to languish near the bottom of the tables in terms of league scoring, continued to put plenty of shots and pressure on Sens goalie Marcus Hogberg in the second before Chris Tierney and Connor Brown made it 3-0. The shots at that point were 25-10 for the frustrated visitors.
“That’s the season – some games you deserve to be down and you’re up and you win ’em,” said Mark Giordano.
“And a night like tonight, I thought especially after the first, we deserved better. This trip, we were really having trouble scoring goals, obviously. I guess the only positive coming out of it is it’s nice to see Janks get his first of the year and hopefully that will get him going.”
Indeed, with the hosts up 4-0 late, Mark Jankowski converted a nifty backhand for his first of the season.
Noah Hanifin added another in the final two minutes, which did nothing to change the demeanour of a Flames bunch that missed a great opportunity to bolster their momentum.
“It’s a long (break) so you’re going to have lots of time to think about how we’re going to have to come back these last 32 games,” said Matthew.
“Last year we didn’t necessarily come back after this break and play our best hockey, and that kind of showed in the playoffs. We have to come back ready to go for this home stretch because there’s no room for error right now with where we are and where we want to be.”