With a critical eye, you can look at Friday night’s loss to the Buffalo Sabres and pick apart the Calgary Flames’ details.
The 1-0 overtime loss was a grind, to say the least. Coming off a 6-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the Sabres outshot and out-chanced the Pacific Division-leading Flames. They finished checks, choked off the open ice and mucked it up as the underdogs. It was a fight for every inch of ice out there.
Jacob Markstrom was stellar for the Calgary Flames once again, playing 60 minutes of shutout hockey. Unfortunately, this game went to overtime. That’s where the goalie’s sole error on the night ended up in the back of his net.
Markstrom whiffed on the puck in the high slot as he tried to play a long-distance dump-in, and Tage Thompson was right there to take advantage.
“It’s tough to watch. Marky played really well for us tonight,” Calgary Flames centre Mikael Backlund said of the unlucky play. “He kept us in the game multiple times. It wasn’t good enough from us, but Marky definitely was our best player. It’s unfortunate, the break at the end there.”
It was Markstrom’s strong play for more than three periods that got them an important point in the first place.
“He made some saves in the second where we gave up the middle of the ice. Probably four, five times in the second period,” Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said of his goaltender. “Probably got us to the overtime.”
Sutter bristled a bit when asked if he felt the team was fortunate to come away with a point.
“No way, that’s a good point,” Sutter said. “That might be the point that gets you into the playoffs. It’s a good point for us.
“Didn’t score, got a point.”
Highlight-reel save robs Flames newcomer
A massive save at the other side of the rink is the reason the Sabres had a chance to earn that extra point for themselves. Calle Jarnkrok was looking at scoring his first goal in his first game with the Calgary Flames when Dustin Tokarski came across his crease to rob him at close range to preserve the scoreless tie.
Jarnkrok suited up with Tyler Toffoli and Andrew Mangiapane about 24 hours after the NHL trade brought him to Calgary from the Seattle Kraken.
“He got better as the game went on,” Sutter said of Jarnkrok. “First period, he was kind of watching a little but. But after that, I thought he was really good.”
The Flames had some chances but never took advantage. The Jarnkrok play was as close as they’d come to scoring.
Johnny Gaudreau had a breakaway in the third period but missed the net, and Sutter alluded to the missed opportunities afterward.
“It’s March. Gotta play close, hard games every game,” said Sutter. “You can win 1-0 in that game easy, too. Missed too many (chances). Missed the net (on a) breakaway, defence jumped up, missed chances. That’s the way it works – it’s March.
“Gotta score a big goal.”
The big goal never came. At least not from the Flames. A team that’s been very reliant on the top line to make a difference all season is seeing a bit of a lull from the top trio over the past week.
In their last two losses, Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk all have zero points.
“Tough to score. It’s that time of year,” said Sutter. “It’s easy to score in October and November. You’ve got to get into where the mud is a little more.
“It’s individuals. Get in there and work and dig.”