OTTAWA — Silence hovered outside the visitors room.
All three coaches eventually emerged single-file — stone-faced, visibly disappointed.
More silence followed before the door slammed open and an equipment bag was tossed violently on a heap. The bang of an unseen kick or punch on another doorway rang from just inside the hall.
If they weren’t already feeling the pressure, the Calgary Flames’ 3-2 loss to the host Ottawa Senators Tuesday night sure tightened their collars.
A win was within their grasp.
The top line connected for two goals in as many periods.
Their goaltender was top-notch with at least a couple of highlight-reel saves against a motivated home squad.
But the Flames fell short in the nation’s capital. And coming close isn’t going to get them into the playoffs.
“Another game we should have won,” said Flames defenceman Adam Pardy. “Turnovers. Too many turnovers. Too many odd-man rushes. We can’t do that. We can’t allow that. We’ve got to be a team that plays tight defensively.”
They did just that for the opening 17 minutes. Things began to unravel from there.
Their 1-0 lead on Niklas Hagman’s first goal in a Flames uniform disappeared as quickly as they put it up. Just 19 seconds later, Senators star Alex Kovalev capitalized on a powerplay with a fortunate pinball shot off a shin that came back out into the slot and then banked into the goal off Daymond Langkow’s leg.
Matt Stajan gave the lead back to the Flames early in the second period, polishing off a pretty pass from captain Jarome Iginla.
That, too, was turfed six minutes later, when Jarkko Ruutu pounced on a poor clearing attempt by defenceman Jay Bouwmeester that skipped off a body and bounced right to the Senators pest in the circle.
The winning goal came before the end of the period — the Flames were unable to keep the Sens out of their zone, and Jonathan Cheechoo’s centering pass banked off Pardy’s stick to Jason Spezza, who made no mistake.
The Flames made plenty of miscues in a run-and-gun second period that cost them the game.
“We got really sloppy,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “We tried to make the perfect plays in the neutral zone. We tried to use speed — but not with intelligence. We were looping away with no support.
“The second period was like we wanted to play a river game — on a river.”
Reminiscent of the kind of play that kicked off their nine-game losing streak last month, the Flames will have to find a way to get back to the kind of play that has kept them in tight games recently and earned them critical points for a playoff push.
“I’m not happy at all,” Sutter said. “That game was there for us to get some points here, and we just didn’t play a good enough game.”
He won’t get any argument from an unhappy locker-room of players.
“That’s a game we’ve got to have,” Stajan said. “You’ve got to give (the Sens) credit, but at the same time, that’s not acceptable on our behalf.”
The loss to the Sens left them with just three points of a possible six on the three-game road trip.
They play the Dallas Stars Thursday at the Saddledome.
“It’s disappointing, because it’s another two points we need and we should have got,” Pardy said.
“They’re huge. You look at the standings, it’s pretty tight. A lot of the teams have games in hand on us. These points are huge.
“We’ve got to treat every game like a playoff game. We’ve got to get our emotions high and get the intensity level to a level we need to play and take control of games.”