In two periods of play, the Calgary Flames scored as many goals in front of Jacob Markstrom as they had in his previous four starts.
It was the kind of scoring support the team had been talking about after failing to take advantage of a couple of strong to stellar individual goaltending performances in Columbus and Montreal.
They needed just one more, but couldn’t get it in overtime or the shootout as the Flames dropped a 4-3 decision on home ice against their Pacific Division rival Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
Of course, they could also have stopped just one of the three goals against and come away with a victory, too. Unfortunately, the Calgary Flames haven’t been able to put their offensive and defensive games together on the same night very often this season.
A tough start put them in a bad spot early. Markstrom gave up two goals on the first three shots he faced but couldn’t’ really be faulted on either. One was a perfect deflection by Bo Horvat at the top of the crease — his 21st of the year. Just 34 seconds later, Connor Garland walked into the circle uncontested and ripped a high shot past the Flames netminder.
“Big point for us. Bad luck early,” said Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “I thought we were pretty resilient – battled back.”
Markstrom rejected every other shot that came his way over the next 63:12.
“That’s part of resilient, right? That’s what he was,” Sutter said of Markstrom’s performance.
The Flames erased the 2-0 deficit with goals from Mikael Backlund on the powerplay and Andrew Mangiapane on a nice cycle in latter half of the opening frame.
They took the lead on Trevor Lewis’s sixth of the season early in the second period.
The veteran made a hard push to get to the net with two Canucks draped all over him, then followed the puck to the corner and shot it in off goalie Spencer Martin from a bad angle.
Finally, the Flames managed to put a few goals together to give Markstrom a chance for victory after he’d offered them that opportunity so many times previously with his play.
"Yeah, it's unfortunate, really. He's deserved better outcomes his last few starts and we try to emphasize it,” Blake Coleman said earlier in the day. “We try to play for Marky. He's a great guy, great leader on our team. We've just got to give him the run support.
”There's no excuses. You've just got to find a way to get pucks in the net and lift a guy like that up, because he's the reason we've been in a couple of the games. He's drawn some criticism in the media over the last month that we don't feel was deserved, so it's on the players to pick him up."
One too many defensive lapses caught up with them again, though. Sheldon Dries tied things up less than two minutes after Lewis grabbed the lead with a fast break and a top-shelf shot on a broken defensive play with Jonathan Huberdeau and Michael Stone on the coverage.
Markstrom was incredible in the overtime period, turning away another handful of shots in the extra frame dominated by the Canucks — including an Ilya Mikheyev breakaway.
Only Andrei Kuzmenko scored in the showdown.
The Flames will take the point but haven’t been rewarded for some decent hockey lately.
“I think this whole month has been our best month. The difference is our difference maker,” Sutter said, adding that top players are needed even more in circumstances like overtime and shootouts.
“That’s when your best players have to be difference makers.”