Tuesday’s bitter 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks provided a tough reality check for the Calgary Flames.
The wheels fell under the bright lights of the Saddledome in the third period of Tuesday’s game. Many unenviable firsts have happened to a Flames team that was doing well on home ice.
Here are three things we learned in the sobering loss.
3. Calgary is not invincible when leading after two
Calgary fell to 31-1-2 while leading after two periods, a still outstanding .912 winning percentage. That’s the league’s seventh-best winning percentage in the lead after two periods.
An inexplicable 28 seconds, in which Alexander Barabanov and Logan Couture scored, was enough to doom the Flames, who otherwise played a pretty solid game. The Sharks outshot Calgary 38-31, another rarity for Darryl Sutter’s team.
2. Markström is human after all
An even more unusual event saw Jacob Markström prove himself to be human. The Swedish keeper had a rare night off, giving away two he wished he had in return. The 32-year-old still made 34 saves in the loss, but he won’t be happy to concede a pair of softies.
It was Markström’s first loss at the ‘Dome since Calgary lost 4-1 to Ottawa on Jan. 13. He also lost two in overtime — one to the Habs and the other to the Sabers — but has won every other home game since the Sens loss.
Markström’s home record fell 18-5-6 and 14-2-2 in his 18 in Stampede City. This type of competition is inevitable for even the most consistent elite goalkeepers over a long season. Expect Markström to bounce back when he’s next between the posts, which might not be until Saturday.
With the Oilers looming Saturday night, Sutter will likely decide to rest his number one goaltender when Calgary hosts Arizona tomorrow.
3. Sharks have the Flames number
San Jose has beaten Calgary all three times the two teams have met this season. The Sharks are one of the Flames’ phantom teams. Everyone expected Sutter’s team to take both points, especially after opening the third with a header.
Calgary lost Game 1 4-1 and followed that up with a 5-3 loss to the Sharks. The Flames will be happy to know that the Sharks, who are virtually out of contention for the playoffs, are not a possible first-round opponent.
It was one of those contests the Flames can learn from, especially with the playoffs looming. Sutter has yet to find a way to improve his team’s record in one-goal games, with the Flames falling to 8-3-8 in such matters. The last one-goal loss was against the Sabres, another inferior opponent.
With eight of those 11 losses coming in three-on-three overtime, Calgary’s inability to win in close games is still a huge concern for the coaching staff and players.