Flames continue to struggle at home with loss to Jets
CALGARY — While the Winnipeg Jets have reversed their fortunes under new coach Paul Maurice, it was same old, same old Thursday night for the Calgary Flames.
Olli Jokinen, Mark Scheifele, and Bryan Little each had a goal and an assist as Winnipeg won 5-2, handing Calgary its record-setting seventh consecutive loss on home ice.
“It’s pretty tough to generate energy when you give up the first two goals,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley. “Bad coverage right in front of our net. In the NHL, you let guys get great shots from 10, 15 feet away, you’re looking for trouble.”
Considering the Flames had scored only two goals over their previous six home games, that early 2-0 deficit courtesy of Little at 5:01 and Dustin Byfuglien three minutes later seemed to take the life right out of the building, except for the pockets of vocal Jets supporters.
“It’s frustrating for our fans, for sure,” admitted Flames centre Matt Stajan, who has gone 16 games without a goal and has no points in his last 12. “Every year, we take pride in wearing this jersey, especially on home ice. We’ve always had success in this building. In this recent stretch, it hasn’t been very pretty. ”
The Flames have been outscored 22-4 during the losing streak at the Scotiabank Saddledome, which broke the previous mark of six straight losses set in December 1998.
“We can’t wait for it to turn around. The game doesn’t work that way. It’s not just all of a sudden, you’re going to start winning. You’ve gotta make it happen,” Stajan said.
Home or away, goal scoring has been a real trouble spot of late.
Calgary has mustered only 12 goals in its last 11 games. They have lost nine of those games to sit 28th in the NHL, three points up on Edmonton. The last place Buffalo Sabres have climbed within six of the Flames.
“I felt tonight, not to make up any excuses, but we had zero legs.” Hartley said. “In the third period, we saw a little life but in the first two periods, skating was painful. We were trying but I don’t know if it was the trip, and I even hate to mention this, but we had zero intensity, we couldn’t move.”
Travelling a long distrance for a short two-game road trip, Calgary played back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday, winning in Carolina and losing in Nashville.
Jacob Trouba also scored for Winnipeg (21-23-5), which opened up a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes and cruised to its second consecutive win under Maurice.
“We just have to keep focusing on what we’re doing and getting better every game and having a short memory is going to be good for us,” said Trouba. “Forget about the game we just played and treat every game as a new one and be ready to play.”
Maurice was hired Sunday, the same day that former Jets coach Claude Noel was fired. Winnipeg won 5-1 over Phoenix in Maurice’s debut on Monday.
“He’s been really good for us,” said Scheifele. “He’s really instilled a mindset that we’re playing for each guy in the locker room, you’re playing for the guy beside you. I think that’s the big thing, we’ve really been doing that the last two games.”
The Jets will try to make it three wins in a row Saturday night when they play host to the Edmonton Oilers.
“I thought we were pretty good,” Maurice said. “Calgary wasn’t sitting back and feeling sorry for themselves. They compete, they work and to our credit, we respected that coming into this game. We came to work because we knew they would.”
Mark Giordano and Lance Bouma scored for Calgary (16-26-6), which hits the road for games in Vancouver and San Jose next.
“It seems like we’re lacking confidence offensively right now but you try not to think about too much,” said Flames winger Paul Byron.
“It seems like when we get a goal early in a game, we have a completely different hockey team so we know that’s a recipe for success so hopefully we can get back to doing that.”
Exposed on Byfuglien’s first-period goal, leaving him uncovered in the slot, Calgary’s defensive coverage was also poor on both second period goals.
Schieffle was left all alone at the side of the net for an easy tap-in at 9:09, set up neatly by Blake Wheeler.
At 17:31 on the power play, nice puck movement resulted in Jokinen having an empty net to fire his 13th of the season into.
Making his fourth start in a row, Pavelec finished with 20 saves to improve to 13-19-4.
Berra had 18 stops. The 27-year-old first year goaltender from Switzerland falls to 5-14-2.