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After 3-1 Flames Dud in Columbus, Is it Phillips Time in TO?

The Calgary Flames were a massive disappointment in their first of a three-game roadie, losing 3-1 to the Blue Jackets in Columbus.



Matthew Phillips was a scratch in his much-celebrated recall from the AHL. But after the dud the Calgary Flames dropped in Friday night’s contest in Columbus, it’s hard to imagine even Darryl Sutter would keep the diminutive winger from trying to make a difference in Toronto on Saturday. 

It’s never a good sign when your goaltender lets in the first shot against and still ends up as your best player on the night. But that’s what happened to the Flames on Friday night in a total train wreck in Columbus. 

The Blue Jackets might not agree with that assessment after a 3-1 win in Johnny Gaudreau’s first game against his former team since signing in C-Bus on the first day of NHL free agency. But there was little excitement — at least from a Flames perspective — in what should have been a high-drama contest. 

The Flames were there in body but not in spirit. 

Defensive brain farts — like the one that let sniper Patrik Laine walk in on a breakaway a minute into the game — were frequent. 

Jacob Markstrom missed on Laine’s shot but it’s hard to fault a goaltender in a one-on-one showdown with an elite goal-scorer. 

A second breakaway, this time by Eric Robinson, gave the Blue Jackets a 2-0 lead early in the second period. 

This time blueliner MacKenzie Weegar served one up on a fluffy pass across the ice that looked like it was intended for partner Chris Tanev but went right to Robinson for the uncontested score. 

Weegar was disappointed. That word best sums up the performance of everyone in the Flaming C minus Markstrom. 

It’s true that the Flames’ starting goalie has now allowed six goals on the first shot against in 18 starts this season. A whopping one third of his games. 

To add a little insult to injury, he caught a rut and flopped while playing the puck on the next shift and nearly watched Robinson score seconds after the opener. 

Markstrom slammed the door shut from there, though, finishing with 24 saves and a .923 save percentage. Many of his saves were on odd-man or no-man rushes. Another windmill-style pad stacker on Laine will no doubt make the highlight reels for the week, too. 

Not that he was happy with the result, personal stats aside. 

Despite one of the worst overall efforts we’ve seen all year, the Flames still had a shot at pulling off a comeback. 

Michael Stone blasted a shot past big Radim Zohorna, who was hanging out in front of goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, to cut the lead to one with more than two minutes left on the clock. 

But an empty netter from Sean Kuraly sealed the loss for the Calgary Flames, who started their three-game road trip on a sour note. 

They head to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. 

And after that performance, it may finally be Phillips time. 

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