Flames takeaways: Sutter blasts defence after 'really rough night'

The Sharks scored four straight goals as the rallied to beat the Calgary Flames 5-3.

It took eight minutes for the Calgary Flames to turn a 3-1 second-period lead into a 4-3 deficit they couldn’t claw back from.

It took even less time for the coach to point out how it was possible.

“Our defence had a really rough night,” said Darryl Sutter following Tuesday’s 5-3 loss in San Jose against the Sharks.

“The six defencemen played like an exhibition game.”

Hoping to wrap up a four-game western roadie with their third win, the Flames started the evening by doing plenty of what this team has staked its first-place season on.

They opened the scoring 97 seconds in and proceeded to outshoot and outchance their opponents en route to a 3-1 lead four minutes into the second.

And then it turned.

At a time when it appeared the Flames would ride it out with a smothering finish, they squandered a power play and allowed three quick goals to a Sharks team that would have had no business being in the game if not for Adin Hill and his 40 saves.

This was a game the Flames should have been able to close out, and they knew it.

Erik Karlsson got it started by jumping out of the penalty box and onto a breakaway he converted five-hole.

A Logan Couture redirect, followed by Tomas Hertl’s second of three put the stunned Flames on their heels in a game that suddenly spun out of their control.

“Those weren’t great goals to be quite honest,” exhaled Sutter, whose club was blanked on all three power plays while the hosts scored on both of theirs.

“First off, the penalty was unnecessary and they scored an easy goal. The other was a line change of a defenceman.

“Those are defenceman mistakes, and our goaltender has to be better than theirs.”

The coach had rare criticism for Dan Vladar, who lost for the first time in regulation this year, dropping to 5-1-1.

“Our goaltender had trouble in traffic and trouble with rebounds,” he said.

“Disappointing. Missing nets, missing assignments, turning pucks over. We’ve got to be better than that.”

The team flew home afterward, wondering what could have been.

What should have been.

“We’re up 3-1 on the road and we let them come back -- tough loss,” said Mikael Backlund, whose club finished the trip 2-2.

“I don’t think we played our best hockey, but we came out of it .500 -- probably what we deserved. Sour feeling going on the plane now.”


Johnny Gaudreau’s 10th of the season put the Flames up 2-1 midway through the first with a goal that highlighted the brilliance of all three members of the league’s most prolific line.

A great forecheck by Elias Lindholm allowed Matthew Tkachuk to grab the loose puck and send a no-look pass between his legs for Gaudreau to finish with a nifty deke in front.

The assist gave Tkachuk 300 points for his career, in just his 375th game.

The 23-year-old is the second player from the 2016 draft class to hit such a mark, behind his pal, Auston Matthews.

The goal by Gaudreau made the Flames the first team in the NHL this season to have four double-digit goal scorers, as Andrew Mangiapane has 17, Tkachuk and Lindholm have 11 and Gaudreau has 10.

Four minutes into the second, another Flame reached a milestone when 22-year-old Adam Ruzicka put the Flames up 3-1 with his first NHL goal.

It came in his second game of the season and fifth NHL appearance of his career.

“Great feeling for me and my family watching back home, but pretty upset that we lost this one,” said Ruzicka.

“We dominated the whole game. We were the better team.”


At first glance it might appear Backlund goofed while trying to kill off a first-period penalty that eventually saw Hertl score to tie the game 1-1.

But did he?

Backlund had his stick broken while blocking a Brent Burns point blast As the puck shifted across the ice, Backlund decided to try racing to the nearby bench to grab a stick.

His absence opened up a lane for Hertl to roof his of the night, making Backlund look like he erred in judgment.

The reality is that many in the hockey world believe it makes more sense to abandon the play for a short spell to try retrieving a nearby stick than be a lame-duck defender desperately flailing away without one.

In this case Backlund appeared to be in a no-win situation, resulting in the league’s third-ranked penalty kill allowing its first of two Sharks power-play goals on the night.


Two games after successfully shuffling his lines with an eye on adding secondary scoring, Sutter’s newest third line struck again.

In Anaheim his decision to put Sean Monahan, Blake Coleman and Trevor Lewis together resulted in them combining for five shots and 11 shots on goal in the win.

On Tuesday, the latest third line struck a minute-and-a-half in when Dillon Dube, Milan Lucic and Monahan opened the scoring.

After causing a turnover in the neutral zone, Lucic carried the puck into San Jose’s zone and sent a crossing pass Dube redirected towards the net, where it bounced in off defenceman Mario Ferraro.

By night’s end, Monahan played more minutes than any other Flames forward (19:44), had four shots and was 11 of 16 in the faceoff circle.

The fourth line, consisting of Ruzicka, Lewis and Brad Richardson, did its part with the Flames third goal, putting three of the four lines on the scoresheet.

Defensively, Sutter reinserted Nikita Zadorov into the lineup at the expense of Michael Stone.

Earlier in the day, the Flames recalled defenceman Juuso Valimaki from Stockton, where he played two AHL games.

The Flames host Carolina on Thursday, before Boston comes to town Saturday.

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