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Vladar’s heroics eclipsed by Matthews’ OT winner in 2-1 Flames loss

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Calgary Flames

Stop him once, shame on him. Give Auston Matthews a second opportunity in overtime, shame on you. The Calgary Flames got a spectacular performance from backup goaltender Dan Vladar, but could only muster one point in the 2-1 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Vladar was the main reason the Flames earned a point in the second half of a back-to-back, making 35 saves – including one on a Matthews breakaway not long before the game-winner.

The backup was a popular guess for the start against the Leafs. The Flames played in Montreal the previous night. Jacob Markstrom wasn’t his best in his seventh-straight outing and the team’s second straight regulation loss.

Vladar hadn’t played since Oct. 26, but he showed no signs of rust. Matthews and Nylander consistently peppered him during the contest. The two combined for 13 shots on Vladar. Each finished with a point but were left shaking their heads for nearly 53 minutes.

“It’s nice. (Markstrom’s) been playing real well. When (Vladar) jumps in there like that, it gives the group a lot of confidence,” Flames centre Sean Monahan said of the goaltenders on Sportsnet 960 after the game. “Credit to him to always being ready.”

Kylington offers offence for Flames

With strong puck tracking and positioning all night, Vladar set the visitors up for success on a night Calgary Flames legend Jarome Iginla dropped the ceremonial puck. Defenceman Oliver Kylington looked like he might help knock the Leafs off when he scored his second of the season and ninth point in the last nine games.

Less than five minutes into the third period, Kylington rushed the puck up ice with locomotive speed, dished the puck to Johnny Gaudreau, then took the return pass in stride and found himself alone in front of Jack Campbell.

Corralling a perfectly threaded pass from Gaudreau, Kylington went forehand to backhand with a bobbling puck and flipped it over Campbell’s pad for the game’s first goal.

But Kylington giveth and Kylington taketh away. Or giveth away, maybe. His muffed clearing attempt a few minutes after his spectacular goal led to the tying goal.

The 24-year-old Calgary Flames defenceman’s misfire on the dump-out landed right on Alexander Kerfoot’s stick. He sent a pass to Nylander, whose rocket was tipped by Ondrej Kase to tie things up with his third of the season.

It was an unfortunate error by Kylington. He has firmly established himself as a top four defender with the Flames after some real ups and downs to his NHL career and is dangerous because of his speed and skill. But he has most notably improved his defensive smarts to become one of the team’s top assets.

Misfire in own zone leads to tying goal against

The knock on Kylington is the tendency to make one mistake that leads to a prime chance for the other team. That’s what unfolded in the third period, but Kylington had a great overtime shift that nearly stole the Flames a second point on the night.

He made a handful of strong defensive plays to help keep the deadly Maple Leafs lineup off the scoreboard for most of the game.

There’s little doubt he’ll get a chance to redeem himself on Sunday in Ottawa.

But will Vladar a fourth start and his first consecutive opportunity in order to give Markstrom more rest with four more games to follow on the lengthy road trip?

Vladar certainly deserves the consideration.

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