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Calgary Flames

Game Over: Flames Fight But Malkin The Hero in 2-1 Loss to Pens

The Calgary Flames fought hard but Evgeni Malkin led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 shootout win in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.



Darryl Sutter said earlier this week that the Calgary Flames need to be comfortable being uncomfortable if they want to make the playoffs. 

He was talking about the fact they'd played in 11 one-goal games they'd been involved in. Add another one to the list. 

And in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, one member of the Flames looked extremely comfortable. Goaltender Dan Vladar. 

Vladar was making just his fifth start of the season but showed no signs of rust. 

Yes, the Flames backup was scored on early in the first period, on just the second shot Vladar faced. But he was the biggest reason the Calgary Flames came away with a point as the Penguins won their fourth straight game while celebrating Evgeni Malkin's 1,000th game milestone. The Pens superstar was pumped after a ceremony honoured him prior to puck drop. Technically it was the Russian superstar's 1,001st regular-season contest but he hit that mark on the road. 

In front of his friends, family and adoring fans, Malkin scored the deciding goal in the first round of sudden death in the shootout. He launched his stick into the crowd and was mobbed by his teammates. 

Vladar got his props from the Flames players, too. As he should have. He made a key stop on Jake Guentzel to prolong the shootout, as fleeting as that was, and finished with 38 stops on 39 shots — with only that early marker from Jan Rutta getting past him.

Well, technically there was another goal. 

The Pens were up early after Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane flubbed his attempt at getting the puck deep and Jeff Carter scooped up the loose puck for an odd-man rush from the neutral zone. His drop pass to Rutta offered a perfect lane to snipe one past Vladar to give the home team a 1-0 lead.

For a minute or so it looked like Malkin's setup to Bryan Rust gave the Penguins a second goal at 9:34 of the opening period, but Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter immediately challenged the play for an offside. A video review confirmed Jason Zucker didn't clear the Flames zone and the Flames dodged a bullet.

Vladar stopped the rest of them. 

His highlight reel included a point-blank stop on Rickard Rakell during the first minute of the second period to keep the Flames close. Dillon Dube rewarded him by deflecting a Chris Tanev shot past Tristan Jarry at 8:37 of the second.

It was Dube's second goal in as many games, which is a great sign for the Flames offence going forward. Unfortunately, none of them could beat Jarry until the shootout — where both Jonathan Huberdeau and Rasmus Andersson scored. 

Vladar stoned Brock McGinn and Carter in the third period to pad his save count. 

The Flames play again at noon MT on Friday in Washington and are currently 2-1-1 with the season long six-game road swing nearing a close. 

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