Vladar earns shutout against former team in 4-0 bashing of Bruins
It doesn’t seem to matter which goaltender is between the pipes for the Calgary Flames. Jacob Markstrom may be leading the NHL with five shutouts, but Dan Vladar has back-to-back blankings after allowing no goals for the second straight time on the road trip.
And this one came in a meaningful appearance against the team that drafted him. The 24-year-old Vladar was traded to the Flames for a third-round pick in the summer after the Bruins signed free agent Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20-million contract to work as the established veteran with 22-year-old prospect Jeremy Swayman.
Maybe the Bruins got rid of the wrong guy.
It was Vladar who came away on the winning side in the showdown against Swayman, backing the Flames to a 4-0 win to cap off a stellar seven-game road trip with a 27-save performance. It was Swayman’s first loss in nine games at home this season.
Vladar has yet to lose in regulation and is now 4-0-1 in his five starts, including a pair of shutouts against the Ottawa Senators and now the Bruins.
Vladar “solid” but had plenty of help from his friends
“Just solid,” head coach Darryl Sutter said of Vladar after the game. “His team was really good in front of him; there wasn’t a lot of second opportunities.”
That says a lot about the Sutter system working well, because the Bruins are notorious for their play around the other team’s crease. They tend to make things difficult on defenders.
But it was the Calgary Flames making things messy in the blue paint around Swayman.
Johnny Gaudreau scored less than a minute and a half into the game on a rebound off a shot from Juuso Valimaki – who was playing for the first time in nearly a month. Noah Hanifin extended the lead at 13:51 of the second period on another rebound. It was the Boston native’s first of the year after a three-assist night on Saturday, and it came in front of a whole lot of family and friends.
Andrew Mangiapane scored his 15th goal of the year – this one shorthanded – early in the third period after a couple of shots from Dillon Dube. Of all the people to leave alone in front of the net with a loose puck floating around …
It was Mangiapane’s fifth goal in the last three games.
Mikael Backlund capped off the scoring a minute later with a shot that trickled through Swayman’s pads and crossed the goal-line – although it a video review to confirm.
“It looked like it was in. I wasn’t sure if the whole puck was in,” Backlund said on Sportnet 960’s post-game show. “I didn’t want to get too excited too soon.”
Calgary Flames finish lengthy road trip off in fine fashion
There is lots to be excited about after this road trip, which puts the Calgary Flames atop the Pacific Division with an 11-3-5 record. They have points in six straight contests and have won three in a row as they head home to host the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.
“I think this is our eighth game in 13 nights, with two back-to-backs in it,” said Sutter. “Give the players credit, it’s not easy. They’ve got to sweat and bleed eight times in 13 nights.”
If all that isn’t impressive enough, the Flames are the first team in league history since 1929 to get seven shutouts in first 19 games of an NHL season.
Even the Bruins probably felt some joy for their former colleague Vladar.
“Happy it’s going well for him. He was a good Bruin. Worked hard. Had a couple of tough injuries that limited his time in Providence. He came over here at a young age … great kid,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told our Boston Hockey Now colleagues before the game. “He played some good games for us. I’ve got nothing bad to say about Vladdy. He’s a good pro. He was well-liked in the room, and he’s got some talent.
“I think he’s in a good spot behind a guy like Markstrom that plays a lot, so he can sort of learn his craft at the NHL level without forced to be the guy every night. I think that helps a lot.”