It was an epic night for the goaltenders. The Calgary Flames came face-to-face with the NHL’s second star of the week and the Pittsburgh Penguins netminder showed them why.
Tristan Jarry has been red hot for the Pittsburgh Penguins of late, and he’s the main reason it took the Flames more than 65 minutes to put away a 2-1 victory at the Saddledome on Monday night.
Mikael Backlund and Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom were the heroes in the Flames’ first shootout of the season. Backlund scored in the seventh round and Markstrom stopped Brock McGinn to clinch it. It was the veteran’s first ever shootout goal after going 0-for-7 previously. But it was far from an easy victory despite the fact the Flames controlled the play for most of the night.
Jarry made 31 saves in regulation and overtime to force the shootout. Many of them were of the highlight-reel variety. Matthew Tkachuk could only look skyward in the third period after it looked like he’d double the hosts’ lead. But his backhander labelled for the top corner was parried aside by Jarry’s blocker.
It was the second time Jarry stole one from the feisty Flames winger. Tkachuk’s deft wrister through a screen was going toward the top corner of the short side in the second period when Jarry shrugged it away at the last second with his shoulder pad.
The Flames helped Jarry out with a couple of goal-posts, too. Johnny Gaudreau and Trevor Lewis both loudly clanged pucks off the iron in the second period. Gaudreau hit the cross-bar in overtime, too.
Goaltending battle worthy of extra time
It was fitting the game finished with a shootout. And even then, it didn’t look like the game would end. Gaudreau finally put one past his nemesis for the night in the shootout but then Kris Letang tied it up on the next shot.
Backlund’s beautiful and deceptive shot under the bar on the glove side finally earned the Calgary Flames the extra point.
“I thought it was a good effort. Pretty solid team effort. Had some chances we probably wish we finished off but in the end we got the two points,” winger Blake Coleman said on Sportsnet 960, noting the frantic overtime.
“We had some good looks; we possessed the puck for the most part.”
Gaudreau was out a lot in overtime, as was Backlund – who head coach Darryl Sutter said was their best player in the three-on-three action. But Gaudreau almost ended things twice.
“He had lots of opportunities,” Sutter said of Gaudreau. “He scored a big goal in the shootout, too.”
Jarry came into Calgary following a 3-0 record last week, including one shutout. He’d stopped 91 of 93 shots fora .978 save percentage and .67 goals-against average – which somehow wasn’t enough for first-star honours (that went to Penguins rival Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals).
With three shutouts in his last six games, the 26-year-old has helped the Penguins crawl into a wild-card position in the Eastern Conference standings.
Lucic’s sixth of the season was nearly enough for Flames
It was Milan Lucic who got the Flames on the board first for an incredible 18th time in 22 games. In a nearly mirror-image play of the one he scored in Pittsburgh last month, Lucic raced up the wing and snapped a low shot through Jarry’s five-hole.
His sixth of the year was nearly enough.
But Jake Guentzel connected on a re-direction of a hard airborne pass from captain Sidney Crosby seconds into a third-period power play with Backlund in the box to tie things up and reward Jarry’s efforts with … the opportunity to make more saves in overtime.
It was an intense game with a playoff feel and a good way to send the Calgary Flames off on another road trip against four Pacific Division opponents.
“It’s gonna be a big one. These are all four-point games coming up,” Coleman said. “Any time you play your own division, there’s going to be a bigger emphasis on getting those points.”