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Vezina-worthy Markstrom earns NHL second-star honour for week

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Calgary Flames starting netminder Jacob Markstrom got the night off on Sunday. Clearly he’d done enough last week to make his mark. On Monday, he was named the NHL’s second star of the week for posting ridiculous numbers in his three starts.

“Markstrom denied 76 of the 78 shots he faced, going 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .974 save percentage and one shutout to help the Flames (36-16-7, 79 points) pad their lead atop the Pacific Division,” the league said in a release.

“He allowed only one goal in each of his first two starts, making 27 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers March 7 and stopping 30 shots in a 4-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning March 10.

“Markstrom then capped the week by earning his league-leading ninth shutout of the season … with 19 saves in a 3-0 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings March 12.”

The 32-year-old seems destined to beat the Calgary Flames’ single-season shutout record set by Miikka Kiprusoff in 2005-06. Markstrom will tie that lofty mark with one more goose egg. In 46 games this season, he’s also among the top performers in goals-against average (3rd; 2.07), save percentage (4th; .928) and wins (t-6th; 28).

Kiprusoff won the Vezina in 2006, and Markstrom is a strong candidate for that award so far this season with his Calgary Flames holding all the power in the Pacific. Markstrom credits the system and his teammates but his abilities are at the forefront within that.

“It’s definitely a team stat,” said Markstrom after the Flames shutout versus Detroit. “I try to tell the guys to keep it going and keep playing this way. It’s fun to be a goalie on this team.

“This whole home stretch has been awesome. Since we got full capacity, the Dome has been great. They’re helping us a lot, and it’s extra motivating to play better and get some extra momentum swings in a game when it’s really tight.”

Those abilities Markstrom has displayed include mental focus, which can be challenging during nights with a light workload on the shot clock. Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter expects nothing less, though.

“It’s his job. Playing on a good team. Simple,” he shrugged. “He had to make some saves in the third, so he stayed focused. It’s his job.”

He’s doing it well.

It’s the third time this season Markstrom has been named a weekly star. He was first star for the weeks of Nov. 1 and Feb. 14), and was named the NHL’s second star for the month of February.

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