Smith, Flames aim to put mistakes in the past vs. Maples Leafs
The goaltender gaffed on both the third-period game-winning and insurance goals. The extra oomph that makes the difference was nowhere to be found.
Yet Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters took it in stride after his team's 4-2 loss on Saturday night to the Minnesota Wild, believing "R and R" will make a difference when his charges return to action Monday night when they play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"I think we ran out of the gas (in the third period)," Peters said after his club fell to the Wild on a night the franchise's all-time leading scorer Jarome Iginla's number was raised to the rafters. "It's very similar to the last time we came back from out east -- we ran out of gas against Arizona."
He added: "I thought we played well but not with the same juice and the same jump that we should have. I think it's on all of us. I think in every aspect of the game we were this much off."
A quick look at the schedule does help his case. The Flames played 13 games in February, nine of the them on the road with three -- yes three -- separate trips to the Eastern Seaboard.
Saturday's loss snapped a seven-game winning streak, so there's no reason for the Western Conference-leading Flames to panic. Still, they were certainly off against the Wild. The most glaring miscues were Mike Smith's, first when the netminder botched playing the puck behind his net and then surrendered a late softie while his team was pushing for an equalizer. Smith, whose play has been inconsistent over the season, heard it from the crowd.
"A mistake behind the net with the puck. You can't make mistakes like that in close games, and tonight, it bit us," he said.
As for the boobirds and Bronx cheers he received after, he replied: "That's part of playing sports and being a professional. Obviously, they're passionate fans, and when things are going well, they're right there with you. But there are mistakes in games that happen, and they paid their money to come here to voice their displeasures, and that's what happened. But I don't think anyone likes to feel like that at home. It's one thing to go on the road and get booed, but you don't like to hear it in your own rink. But that's the way it is. That's part of the sport, and you just accept it and keep moving on."
Toronto arrives on the heels of a 5-2 thumping of the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, an excellent follow-up to the debacle a couple of nights earlier against the New York Islanders -- the infamous game in which John Tavares was skewered by the New York faithful in his return.
Tavares bounced back with a three-point effort against the Sabres and received plenty of love from the Toronto fans who have embraced him since he signed as a free-agent last summer.
"It was a pretty special moment to be recognized like that and get the support of the city and the fans," Tavares said. "It shows you why it's special to be a Maple Leaf. A nice little boost. Nice to do it in a win, come home on a Saturday and play the way we did."
Toronto, which has won four of five games, is kicking off a three-game Western Canadian road trip.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 3, 2019