It was the ultimate redemption for Calgary Flames goaltender Dan Vladar.
Feeling disappointed after allowing one of the weaker shots he faced to get past him in overtime in Toronto, there was no certainty as to how quickly he’d get another start. Vladar played well enough to earn another start, but with Jacob Markstrom being the big-money netminder, a back-to-back for the backup was no lock.
Head coach Darryl Sutter rewarded the 24-year-old Vladar with another start less than 48 hours later. The goaltender rewarded his coach’s confidence with his first NHL shutout in a 4-0 drubbing of the shorthanded Senators in Ottawa.
The souvenir puck is something Vladar was excited about.
“I heard I’m going to get it framed,” he said, looking off camera to one of the Flames staff members. “I’m super excited about that.”
The Senators were missing Drake Batherson and a number of other regulars because of the COVID protocols.
But they still had the majority of their best young players, including captain Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle and Nick Paul.
None of them could beat Vladar, who made 27 saves on the night and has stopped 62 of 64 shots on the road trip.
Calgary Flames back in win column on extended road swing
Matthew Tkachuk was the best of the Tkachuk brothers and had a powerplay goal. Andrew Mangiapane opened the scoring, and Elias Lindholm and Nikita Zadorov also contributed goals.
The Flames are now 1-1-1 through the first three games of seven on the journey as they head south to Philadelphia for Tuesday’s game against the Flyers.
Vladar is now 3-0-1 with the Flames, with a .933 save percentage.
“We just came in with the mindset we wanted to win tonight. We were just a better team. More focused,” said Vladar. “Guys played well in front of me, no rebounds. Easy game for me. Guys just played great.”
Some may be surprised by the start. It’s not typical of a team that has a high-priced No. 1 goalie like Markstrom, who former Flames backup Jamie McLennan called a “unicorn” earlier this year.
Vladar didn’t directly answer the question about whether he was surprised when told he would start his second straight.
“Surprised … It’s my job to be ready for every single game,” said Vladar. “If I get the call, then I just go out there and try to enjoy it and give our team a chance to win.”
Vladar may get another shot against the New York Islanders or Boston Bruins (his former team) next weekend. The Flames close out their trip on back-to-back nights.