SNAPSHOTS: Stunning end for Flames’ win streak – Toronto Sun

Canucks forward Conor Garland scores on Calgary Flames goalie Dan Vladar in the third period at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Thursday night. The Canucks won 7-1.
Canucks forward Conor Garland scores on Calgary Flames goalie Dan Vladar in the third period at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Thursday night. The Canucks won 7-1. Photo by BOB FRID /USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER — The Calgary Flames’ record winning streak ended with a thud.

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It ended with a dud.

The Flames weren’t especially sharp, lacking finish and discipline (among other things) in Thursday’s 7-1 trouncing from the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

They certainly didn’t look like a crew that had rolled to 10 consecutive victories — equalling the longest string of successes in franchise history — prior to this date with their Pacific Division rivals.

“You throw that out,” said Flames forward Blake Coleman of Thursday’s stinker, their first setback since Jan. 27. “You’re not going to win 82 games in a season, as much as you would like to. Good teams get beat and good teams have bad nights. But to be a good team, you have to respond and be able to learn from these games versus get stuck in a rut.

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“We had won 10 in a row for a reason. We’re a really good hockey team. This is part of the growth of our group is being able to respond after what I view as an embarrassing loss and put together a good game at home (Saturday).”

Darryl Sutter’s typically stingy squad surrendered five goals during a nightmare second period in Vancouver. The Canucks scored three of those on the power-play and another on a penalty-shot.

J.T. Miller paced the hosts with a four-point outburst, while both Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson also tallied twice. Andrew Mangiapane spoiled Thatcher Demko’s shutout bid with 2:07 remaining in the rout as the Flames fell to 30-14-6.

This was hardly a warm welcome for Jacob Markstrom, the stalwart netminder who spent seven campaigns between the pipes for the West Coasters.

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It might have been worse for his backup Dan Vladar, suddenly pressed into action when Markstrom needed a skate repair late in the second period. Vladar was greeted with two goals in less than two minutes.

Even when you’re on a scorching streak, as the Flames have been, it’s tough to win when you’re constantly a man down.

“As a penalty-killer, it’s frustrating,” groaned alternate captain Mikael Backlund, describing the shorthanded staff — among the best in the NHL this season — as out-of-synch in this lopsided loss. “We know it’s not good enough. That’s where the game got away from us.”

Indeed, it was.

Coleman was serving a holding penalty when Pettersson unloaded a one-timer from the right circle to open Thursday’s scoring early in the middle frame.

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Then, after Sean Monahan had been busted for high-sticking, Miller picked the top shelf to double the lead.

Horvat notched his first of the evening at even-strength — although it didn’t really look that way since all three Flames forwards were caught up ice after a blocked shot turned into a rush the other direction — and then buried a rebound immediately after Vladar entered the game for another man-advantage marker. Coleman was in the sin-bin for that one too, this time whistled for tripping.

The Flames were just five seconds from the intermission when defenceman Rasmus Andersson used his glove to smother a loose puck in the crease. That’s an automatic penalty-shot, and Miller capitalized on a slick move to his forehand.

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Canucks forward J.T. Miller scores on a penalty shot on Calgary Flames goalie Dan Vladar in the second period at Rogers Arena on Thursday night.
Canucks forward J.T. Miller scores on a penalty shot on Calgary Flames goalie Dan Vladar in the second period at Rogers Arena on Thursday night. Photo by BOB FRID /USA TODAY Sports

“Our penalty-killers weren’t very good tonight,” Sutter said of a cast that managed to kill off only four of their seven minors. “Our defence as a group was borderline awful, so that reflected in our penalty-kill.

“Five-on-five, I thought our first two periods were really good,” he added. “We took two dumb penalties that cost us and missed two or three close-to-breakaways or Grade As in the first. Give the other team credit — they played with a lot of energy and a lot of skill.”

Coleman had one of those all-alone opportunities. That simply added to the frustration on a night that the second-line winger — and regular on the P.K. — twice made that long skate from the penalty-box back to the bench after the other guys cashed on the power-play.

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“If I put that in and bear down, maybe the game goes a different way,” Coleman said. “There’s a lot of areas I can look back on this game and I want to be better and put our team in positions to win.”

AROUND THE BOARDS

Pettersson added another special-teams snipe with a shortie in the third, one of four goals that Vladar ultimately gave up. He was credited with 13 saves … Sutter, post-game, on the equipment issue that ended Markstrom’s night: “His blade came out and they couldn’t get the other one back in, so I don’t know what the deal was. He didn’t have a skate. He would have had to go out there with a rubber boot.” Sutter was awfully complimentary of his go-to goalie earlier in the day, putting the 32-year-old in some fine company. “I’ve been around most of the really good ones the last 30 years,” he reminded. “Go back to Chicago with (Ed) Belfour and (Dominik) Hasek. Go to San Jose, you had Mike Vernon. Go to L.A., Jonathan Quick. Go to Calgary, you had Miikka Kiprusoff. Go to Calgary, you have Jacob Markstrom. You need goalies with character and compete and desire to be better every day. That’s what Markstrom is” … One of Demko’s best of 29 stops Thursday was a toe-save on Elias Lindholm. That was as close as Calgary’s top centre would come to extending his goal-scoring streak. Lindholm arrived in Vancouver on an eight-game heater, equalling the longest such spree in franchise lore. Legendary radio voice Peter Maher passed on an interesting tidbit about the last guy to light the lamp in eight straight for the Flames. When Gary Roberts matched Kent Nilsson’s club record in 1993, he missed out on his shot at nine in a row. Roberts suffered a quadriceps injury that evening — a neutral-site clash with the Philadelphia Flyers in Cincinnati, Ohio — and Maher recalls that when the team landed in Toronto, the star left-winger was in so much pain that he was taken to hospital. Roberts required surgery and missed nearly two months, spoiling his quest for a second straight 50-goal campaign, although he did bury another in his return to the lineup … Asked after Thursday’s morning skate about his first line, Sutter made it clear that it’s been too much heavy-lifting of late for just one guy and that he needs Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk to crank it up to the level they’ve been at for much of this season. Each member of that trio finished minus-2 against the Canucks. “Since the all-star break, Lindy has carried the line, for sure,” Sutter said. “We need all three of ’em to get going again.”

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OFF THE GLASS

The Flames are sporting ‘JBo Strong’ stickers on their helmets, a show of support for a member of their tight-knit family. The team announced earlier this week that assistant athletic therapist James Borrelli was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia and is now undergoing treatment. “He’s going to battle through it, and we’re right there with him,” said general manager Brad Treliving of Borrelli, a father of two young boys. “He’s fighting. He’s fighting hard. And he’ll get on the other side of it, I know that” … Flames blue-liner Oliver Kylington was suiting up Thursday for his 49th game of the season, a new career-high for one of the NHL’s best breakout stories of 2021-22. He was a spare/taxi-squader last winter. The 24-year-old is now a top-four fixture. “I just try to play my game and play my game like it was my last,” Kylington said prior to puck-drop. “I just try to reset after every game and get out there and perform. I think that’s been our mentality as a team, too — to reset after every game and really move forward to the next one and prepare to win. That’s just my mentality” … Next up for the Flames is a home-and-home set against old pal Cam Talbot and the Minnesota Wild. They’ll welcome the Wild to the Saddledome for Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada clash (8 p.m. MT, CBC/Sportsnet 960 The Fan) and the rematch is set for Tuesday in St. Paul.

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

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