CALGARY â€” The Calgary Flames hope they’ve left their bad luck and brain cramps in Anaheim as they try to dig themselves out a hole against the Ducks.
An own goal in addition to a few costly gaffes have the Flames trailing their best-of-seven conference quarter-final series 0-2.
Back at Scotiabank Saddledome for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday respectively, Calgary can draw confidence from the fact they were the better team for stretches of Saturday night’s 3-2 loss at the Honda Center.
“I think we played a pretty complete game last game,” defenceman Matt Bartkowski said Sunday. “We play like that, give another per cent or two, we’ll turn this series right around.”
“Next game is about as important as any game will be.”
Calgary was unlucky when Ryan Getzlaf’s cross-ice pass careered off the skate of Flames forward Lance Bouma and by goalie Brian Elliott for the winning goal with less than five minutes to play Saturday.
The Flames also didn’t get a break from officials, who waived off a possible goal in the second period citing goaltender interference.
But Calgary’s penchant for penalties â€” a combined 31 minutes in the first two games of the series â€” hampered their efforts to win a game in Anaheim where they’ve now lost 29 in a row.
Getzlaf scored the winner Saturday while Hamilton was in the penalty box for holding Corey Perry’s stick.
Flames defenceman T.J. Brodie cross-checked Ryan Kesler, who was down on his knees, and left Calgary shorthanded for two and a half of the final three minutes of regulation.
“We’ve got to be disciplined and we know that,” said Flames forward Sean Monahan, who sported a bruised cheek and a small cut under his right eye.
“We’ve got to be a lot smarter and stay out of the box.”
Calgary’s lackadaisical line change in Game 1 allowed the Ducks to score a tying goal in the second period en route to a 3-2 win.
The Flames did carry the play in the second and third periods Saturday as they outshot the Ducks and blocked more shots. Calgary was more responsible with the puck with 11 giveaways to Anaheim’s 21.
“I think they were probably slightly better than us in Game 1. I thought we were slightly better in Game 2,” Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan said. “There’s no ‘poor me’ coming into it right now.
“We went into Anaheim trying to plant a seed that we can win and win this series. We haven’t got the result, but what we have done is we have planted a seed that, hey, these games are going to be close and contested and tough.
“Going into this Game 3, I think both teams are expecting the same thing. We’re going to have our home crowd behind us.”
The Ducks have few weaknesses, but inexperience on the blue-line is one the Flames can exploit.
Sami Vatanen, who didn’t play Saturday, is day-to-day with an upper-body injury sustained when Bouma checked him in Game 1.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Sunday that Vatanen will travel with the team to Calgary.
Big-minute man Cam Fowler is out for at least the near future with a knee injury suffered in a collision with Flames captain Mark Giordano in the last week of the regular season.
That leaves Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, with an average age of 23, doing a lot of the heavy lifting on Anaheim’s blue-line.
“We do need to get on them a little bit more and put pucks and bodies to the net and make them defend,” Gulutzan said. “We didn’t do as good a job of that.
“Part of that is faceoffs, not controlling that territory. Hopefully we’ll be better at home on the draws.”
Calgary has never won a series in franchise history trailing 0-2. The Flames are undaunted heading back to their building where they were 24-17-0 in the regular season.
“In front of our crowd, the building’s going to be nuts,” Bartkowski said. “Just take what we did last game and just do it a little better.”
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press