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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: Flames pour on goals in rout

Updated March 16, 2023 - 11:15 pm

The seats in T-Mobile Arena were more than half-empty when the final two Calgary Flames goals were announced.

Thursday’s result had long been decided. But the Flames kept pouring it on anyway.

Calgary matched a season high with seven goals to defeat the Golden Knights 7-2 in front of an announced crowd of 18,207. The Knights, after not giving up more than three goals in their previous 12 games, set a season high in goals allowed.

Right wings Blake Coleman and Tyler Toffoli each scored twice in the rout that brought the Flames within three points of Winnipeg for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The loss snapped the Knights’ four-game winning streak. Their lead on Los Angeles for first place in the Pacific Division shrunk to one point with 13 games to go.

“I think they were more desperate in certain areas,” defenseman Zach Whitecloud said. “It’s on us letting that game get away.”

The Knights (42-21-6) briefly had hope in the second period.

They trailed 2-0, but rallied behind goals from defenseman Zach Whitecloud and left wing Reilly Smith. Goaltender Jonathan Quick made a great short-handed stop earlier in the frame to keep the Knights within striking distance.

That promise proved to be fleeting.

Coleman scored off a deflection in front only 1:23 after Smith’s goal to put the Flames (31-24-14) back in front.

“Their goal at the end of the second definitely hurt us,” said Smith, who matched a career best by extending his point streak to seven games.

Center Mikael Backlund pushed Calgary’s lead to 4-2 when he scored from behind the goal line 8:40 into the third period.

His shot deflected off defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and past Quick, who gave up six goals on 29 shots faced to lose for the first time in five starts with the Knights.

The Flames didn’t stop there.

Toffoli scored off a rebound when Quick stopped left wing Andrew Mangiapane on a breakaway. Coleman got an empty-net goal to make the score 6-2 with 4:17 remaining. Then right wing Dillon Dube, 28 seconds after Quick got back in the crease, added one final goal for the road.

The victory was Calgary’s first at T-Mobile Arena in nine tries. The Knights suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season, and gave up more than five goals for the first time.

“We got in our own way tonight in a lot of different ways,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Injury updates

Goaltenders Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit, who are both on injured reserve with lower-body injuries, are skating again.

Cassidy said both are progressing well but are unlikely to dress Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Center Nicolas Roy, who has missed the last 11 games with a lower-body injury, has resumed skating as well. Cassidy said right wing Keegan Kolesar could start skating next week after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

Goaltender Adin Hill is not skating, Cassidy said. Hill has missed the last five games after aggravating a previous lower-body injury.

2. Power play falters

The poor defensive showing shouldn’t obscure what was also a lackluster game for the Knights offensively.

Their 19 shots on goal were their fewest in a game this season. Their power play in particular struggled. It was 0-for-4, while giving up two great short-handed chances to the Flames. The Knights are only 6-for-56 on the man advantage since captain Mark Stone was injured Jan. 12.

“Power play was, fill in the blank,” Cassidy said. “I’ll settle for awful.”

3. Division struggles

The Knights, for all their success this season, haven’t been at their best against the Pacific.

Thursday’s loss dropped them to 8-8-2 against division opponents. They’re 3-6-1 against the other three teams in a playoff spot (Los Angeles, Edmonton and Seattle) plus Calgary.

“We’ve got to get out of our division, right, if we expect to go where we want to go,” Cassidy said. “So we’ve got to correct that, I know that much.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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