CALGARY – Despite a vastly different lineup, the Calgary Flames suffered an all-too-familiar fate on Monday night.
Mike Richards scored twice and Ray Emery made 18 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the new-look Flames 3-0.
“We knew they were going come out hard and instead of wading into the game and seeing what they were going to do, we came out and initiated,” said Richards.
“We played well all the way through. We played well defensively, we did a lot of good things offensively and clogged up the neutral zone as much as we could.”
A day after dealing defenceman Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenceman Ian White and forwards, Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan and Jamal Mayers, the Flames pulled off another deal late Monday.
Following the loss to the Flyers, Calgary dealt Olli Jokinen to the New York Rangers for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.
The Rangers also picked up Brandon Prust.
Against the Flyers, Richards broke a scoreless tie at 10:15 of the second ripping a high shot past Miikka Kiprusoff.
The Flyers extended the lead to 2-0 at 1:49 of the third after Jarome Iginla turned the puck over in the Flyers’ end leading to a breakaway goal for Claude Giroux.
Richards rounded out the scoring with his 22nd goal of the season on a power play at 17:44.
“It was disappointing. We’ve got to play a better hockey game, that’s the bottom line,” said Stajan, who centred the top line with Iginla and Dustin Boyd. The trio combined to be a minus-five on the night.
“We didn’t muster enough offence, didn’t have enough shots on net and they capitalized on some chances. We’ve just got to be better prepared, that’s the bottom line.”
All four players acquired by the Flames in the blockbuster trade on Sunday that also saw winger Fredrik Sjostrom and minor-league defenceman Keith Aulie packing were in the Calgary lineup.
Hagman joined Jokinen on a line with Jamie Lundmark, while Mayers skated on the fourth line. White not only assumed Phaneuf’s old jersey No. 3 but also paired up with his former defence partner, Robyn Regehr.
“You try and build chemistry, and get used to tendencies of the guys you’re playing with. It doesn’t just happen,” Stajan said. “You start to get a feel but it wasn’t there tonight. We’ve got to make sure we work hard at practice (Tuesday) and really get a feel for whoever we’re playing with and be better.”
With so much upheaval and just the morning’s game-day practice to get used to their new teammates, the Flames were sloppy and disorganized.
“We had a lot of guys here tonight that didn’t play well,” said Flames coach Brent Sutter. “I don’t think the emotion level was where it needed to be. We were tentative on pucks. We played a bad game.”
With the loss, Calgary tumbled out of a playoff spot and back into ninth spot in the Western Conference. Sutter warned that the adjustment period with the new players can’t last long.
“I don’t think it’s right to judge them on their performance tonight but the reality is we can’t have players, new and old, take too long getting used to each other because we have no time for that, we have to win hockey games.”
Calgary (27-21-8) is 1-7-3 in its last 11 overall is just 1-6-1 in their last eight at home. Over that span, they have amassed just 12 goals, six of them coming Saturday night versus the Oilers.
One of the reasons for bringing in Hagman (20 goals, 13 assists) and Stajan (16 goals, 25 assists) was to rejuvenate a slumbering Calgary offence.
There were no immediate returns with Calgary generating its second-lowest shot output of the season.
Calgary’s best scoring chance came while short-handed in the first and Emery didn’t even need to make a save. Defenceman Adam Pardy raced up the ice to join Curtis Glencross but his shot sailed wide.
“He made the saves that needed to be made,” said Richards. “Coming off his surgery, it looks like he’s a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable in net, not letting out too many rebounds, playing the puck a lot better and made the big saves when he needed to do.”
Philadelphia (28-23-3) was playing the first of three straight road games against Northwest Division teams. The Flyers will look for their 10th win in 14 games when they play in Edmonton on Wednesday.
Philadelphia moves into sole possession of sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, seven points back of Ottawa and two points up on Florida and the New York Rangers.
“We knew we had to play for 60 minutes, which is something we’ve gotten away from a little bit the last couple games. That was probably our best 60 minute effort in quite a few games,” Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said.