The new-look Calgary Flames didn't get the results they were hoping to see on Monday, taking a 3-0 loss at home to the Philadelphia Flyers.
A day after picking up four new players (Matt Stajan, Nik Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Ian White) from Toronto in hopes of spreading out the team's scoring, the Flames managed only 18 shots on the Flyers' Ray Emery, who picked up his third shutout of the season.
"It was disappointing," Stajan said. "We've got to play a better hockey game, that's the bottom line. 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."
"We had a lot of guys here tonight that didn't play well," Flames head coach Brent Sutter pointed out. "I don't think the emotion level was where it needed to be. We were tentative on pucks. We played a bad game."
Mike Richards had two goals as Philadelphia handed the Flames their 10th loss in their last 11 games. Calgary recorded its second-lowest shot output of the season.
The loss also snapped Calgary captain Jarome Iginla's points streak at three games and sent the team sliding to ninth place in the Western Conference, tied with Detroit. The Red Wings have a game in hand and sit in eighth.
The first period was scoreless, and it took a bouncing puck to help Richards open the scoring just past the midway point of the second period.
New kids in town
Stajan assumed the role of top-line centre, flanked by Iginla and Dustin Boyd.
Hagman joined Olli Jokinen and Jamie Lundmark.
Mayers jumped into fourth line duties while White took over both departed defenceman Dion Phaneuf's No. 3 jersey and his former blue-line partner, Robyn Regehr.
Daniel Briere started the play by gaining the Calgary zone, cutting wide, then shuffling the puck toward the net. It deflected off Jay Bouwmeester's stick in front of the net, ending up in the air. From there, Simon Gagne batted it down into the slot, where it found a temporary home on Richards' stick.
With Stajan on his back, the Flyers captain made no mistake, slapping it quickly past Miikka Kiprusoff's blocker side for a 1-0 lead and his 21st tally of the year.
"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," Richards said. "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."
At the other end of the ice, Emery faced only three second-period shots, with many of the Flames' attempts missing high and wide.
"He made the saves that needed to be made," Richards said. "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."
The Flyers added to their lead less than two minutes into the third, thanks to a pretty backhand by Claude Giroux.
A pass from defenceman Arron Asham to Giroux at the Calgary blue-line gave the winger a step on the Flames' Bouwmeester. Giroux used this space to fool the Flames goalie by skating across the slot to the right, but he kept his stick to the left of his body, flicking the puck effortlessly over the sliding Kiprusoff.
As for the new recruits, Hagman was the most visible, nearly splitting the Flyers' defence with 5:50 to go, but he was stripped of the puck before he could manage a shot.
"You try and build chemistry and get used to tendencies of the guys you're playing with," Stajan said. "It doesn't just happen. 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."
"I don't think it's right to judge them on their performance tonight," Sutter noted. "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."
Richards added his second of the game, on the power play, with 2:07 remaining.