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That one bites: Flames can’t beat Sharks

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It took just 28 seconds for the tide to turn. But the Calgary Flames lost control of the game well before the San Jose Sharks took their first lead with less than half a period to play.

Goaltender Jacob Markstrom had an off night. Johnny Gaudreau missed a couple of great opportunities to pad the lead. Their team defence was missing the team – and the defence – as they dropped their third game to the Sharks this season.

People watching the highlights of the 4-3 Sharks win will remember the two goals from Alexander Barabanov and Logan Couture less than 30 seconds apart in the third period. The Calgary Flames players will remember the little waves that turned into whirlpools as they dropped their first game of the season in regulation when heading into the third period with a lead.

“Some careless mistakes in our own zone, not burying our chances when we had opportunities. I’ll start with myself,” said Gaudreau, who missed the net on a partial breakaway and then watched Sharks goalie James Reimer snatch his penalty shot attempt with his glove.

“I came in too slow, I just got a weak shot off. I think I was too close … shot right at the glove,” Gaudreau explained on Sportsnet 960 radio. “We could have easily taken the game away from them in the second and we let them hang around.”

Sharks making a meal out of Calgary

As the Flames have discovered this season, the Sharks are not a team you want to leave “hanging around” in games. The Sharks have won all three meetings. Couture has been a big factor in all of them.

Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter warned them earlier in the day. The Sharks work hard. Like their namesake, they’re opportunistic. They smelled blood in Calgary again and they swarmed.

Markstrom was off. Maybe that’s why Flames goaltending coach Jason LaBarbara was tossed out as media chum after the game instead of Sutter. The goal Markstrom allowed to Marc-Edouard Vlasic late in the first period might have been his weakest of the year. But there was little help for the netminder, who faced 38 shots.

“San Jose did a really good job of getting a lot of pucks to the net. Nights like that, they can be tough on a goalie, for sure,” said LaBarbara. “I think we made a couple of turnovers, a couple of bad plays, and they ended up on the wrong players’ sticks.

“I don’t know if he was screened, or it got tipped (on the Vlasic goal). Good things happen when you put pucks on the net.”

Markstrom falls on sword for Flames

Markstrom wasn’t sure what happened on the first Sharks goal but said he has a lot of tape to watch. He took full credit for the loss – probably harder on himself than he needed to be.

“Not good,” he said, summing things up with two words. “Four goals against at home. I thought we kept the chances down. You’ve got to stop all four. I wasn’t good. I’ve got to be better. It sucks when we scored three goals after two periods, and we should be up 3-0. It’s frustrating. Not a good game from me.

“I’ve sure as hell got to be better,” he added later.

Teammate Matthew Tkachuk, however, followed Gaudreau’s lead and pointed to the team in front of Markstrom as a big reason for the loss.

“I just thought that we did a pretty terrible job in front of Marky tonight,” said the Flames winger. “Especially in the third. We’re up 3-2 going into the third. At home, that’s a great spot to be.”

Barabanov was in a great spot for his tying goal, and the winner by Couture was basically a two-on-none.

“That’s a goal on any goaltender in the league,” Tkachuk said of the winner, which went for a quick video review. “(Markstrom’s) been our MVP this year. Backbone. MVP. Best player on our team. Whatever you want to say. He’s been that for us all year.”

With a few days before the next game, Markstrom should get another chance to prove it on Friday against the Arizona Coyotes.

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