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GAME AT A GLANCE: Flames salvage point thanks to … Zadorov

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Calgary Flames Dallas Stars Matthew Tkachuk

Nikita Zadorov may have won over some Calgary Flames fans with a pretty good night, but the Flames lost again at home – the third time they’ve lost in OT on home ice – with a 4-3 decision against the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Stars captain Jamie Benn scored the winner in extra time to cap off what was a pretty pedestrian night for Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Still, the Flames did come back from a third-period deficit to earn a point in their ninth straight game and improve their overall record to 6-1-3 on the season.

Credit Zadorov’s two-point night – including his first goal as a member of the Calgary Flames – for that.

First period: Flames come out flat while the Stars find iron

For a while there, I thought I was watching the Ken Hitchcock Dallas Stars versus the Darryl Sutter Calgary Flames. The neutral zone was more crowded than pre-pandemic Times Square and the pace was muddy with a side of molasses.

It took a Matthew Tkachuk minor penalty for chirping the referees from the bench to get things to open up a bit three quarters of the way through the period.

On the powerplay, Miro Heiskanen made an incredible pass to find Denis Gurianov streaking toward the net on the other side of the ice to put the Stars up 1-0. It’s hard to believe the Stars defenceman is just 22 years old and in his fourth NHL season. Anyway, the pass was sauced over the outstretched leg of Noah Hanifin, through traffic and right onto Gurianov’s tape for his second goal of the season.

That was it for scoring in the most sluggish start to a Calgary Flames game this season. The Stars only outshot the Flames 10-9 but they hit another three posts and the home side was a little lucky to be just a goal down after the opening 20 mintues.

Second period: Last-second softie beats Markstrom to spoil stronger second frame

Surely anyone making their hockey bets on Spreads.ca would have put some money down on Milan Lucic to score his third goal of the season set up by both Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson.

The Flames cashed in the tying goal when Gudbranson sent the puck across to his blueline partner.  Zadorov slapped it toward the net for the beefy Lucic to get his stick on. Lucic’s tip knuckled the puck over and behind Anton Khudobin, who was pretty sharp on the night.

That took more than 15 minutes of the period, but the Flames looked more like their typically intense selves in the second frame.

Speaking of intense, Tkachuk continued to make his presence felt with the Flames on the powerplay just a few minutes after tying things up.

A night after hearing his name brought up in the Jack Eichel trade chatter, Tkachuk scored his fifth of the year from Elias Lindholm and Rasmus Andersson to cap off some impressive puck movement on the man advantage. Tkachuk roofed Lindholm’s tight setup from the doorstep.

All but one of Tkachuk’s goals this year have come on the Flames powerplay – which came into the contest with the fourth-best success rate in the league (26.7%).

The Flames outshot the Stars 15-7, but their lead wasn’t long-lived.

In the dying seconds of the period, former Calgary Flames winger Blake Comeau scored his first of the season with a shot that goalie Jacob Markstrom would normally stop.

Third period: The rollercoaster continues as teams exchange

You wondered whether the Calgary Flames would come out hot to make a statement after the late goal in the second period, but it was the Stars who took back the lead early in the third.

Tyler Seguin made a nice tip on a wrist shot from Alexander Radulov a little more than a minute into the final period to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.

Well, maybe nice isn’t the best description. Seguin got his stick on the puck, then it bounced into the net off his body.

The Flames, though, have proven to be good at playing from behind lately. They came back from a one-goal deficit late in the game to force overtime in their loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and they did it again on Thursday.

The unlikely hero to get them to overtime? Zadorov … you bet. He scored his first as a member of the Flames with a stellar wrister past Khudobin at 16:03 of the third for his 11th career multi-point game.

To be fair, the real work was done by Oliver Kylington. He dangled until spotting Zadorov coming across the blueline with some speed.

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