It wasn’t a clean win for the Calgary Flames, but they’ll take all the victories on home ice they can get.
Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom’s perfect performance against players not named Nikolaj Ehlers would prove to be just enough for his team, as a late power-play goal gave the home side a 3-2 win.
For the most part the referees let the two teams play, calling only three minor penalties in the first 57 minutes. But after Nathan Beaulieu was whistled down for a high-sticking penalty late in the game, Elias Lindholm scored with just 1:42 remaining in the third period, and it held up as the game-winner.
“It’s a disappointing way to end a game,” head coach Paul Maurice said.
It’s the first time this season the Jets failed to earn at least a point against Calgary in their five meetings.
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Jets forward Andrew Copp said. “I don’t think we were clicking on all cylinders by any means.
“We’ll bounce back. A tough way to lose, but I don’t want that to distract from who we can be in the good spurts in the game, and what we think we’re building towards.”
In his first game with his new team, Pierre-Luc Dubois finished the contest sporting a minus-one rating, and a single hit in 13:10 of ice-time. It was his first game since January 21.
“First game in twenty-some days,” Dubois said. “I think the legs, the hands, the head – you try and get everything back. And I thought as the game went on, I was getting some things back, but I can play a lot better than that.”
Dubois started the game by centring a line of Kyle Connor and Trevor Lewis. But Maurice juggled his lines in the second period, swapping Mason Appleton for Lewis.
“It’s been a long time since he played a game, but after that, there was lots of good things,” said Maurice. “Strong movement to the net, some physicality, some real nice hands, so it was a good first one for him.”
Copp assisted on both of Ehlers’ goals.
With four balanced lines, Mark Scheifele was the only Jets’ forward with over 20 minutes of ice time. He recorded one assist to extend his point streak to four games.
Flames captain Mark Giordano made an impact at both ends of the ice in the game’s early going – hitting a post on one shift, and blocking a shot with a kick save on the next, shattering his foot guard in the process.
The Flames and Jets would trade early, unsuccessful power-plays, but neither team would find the net during the first period — one Calgary led in shots, 11-10.
After Sean Monahan was sent to the box early in the second frame for a hooking penalty, the Jets’ power-play struck first.
Ehlers used some space on the left-wing boards and wired a wrist shot across the crease and over the left shoulder of Markstrom for his seventh goal of the year.
Andrew Mangiapane tied things up just 66 seconds later, when a tipped puck ended up on the stick of Mikael Backlund, who threw the puck on net before his linemate swatted it past Connor Hellebuyck.
Winkler’s Byron Froese tipped in a Juuso Valimaki point-shot at 13:34 to put the Flames up 2-1.
Ehlers’ second of the game just two minutes later knotted the score at 2-2 — burying a pass from Scheifele off the rush.
A back-and-forth third period took a turn in the Flames’ favour with just over two minutes to go in regulation, when Beaulieu was sent off for high-sticking the Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau.
After some pretty passing in the Jets’ zone, Lindholm’s wrister bounced off a leg in front of Hellebuyck for the game-winner.
Hellebuyck finished with 26 saves on 29 shots for a .897 save percentage.
Markstrom stopped 25 of 27 at the other end.
Maurice also made another adjustment to his forward lines as Adam Lowry joined Paul Stastny and Blake Wheeler for a few shifts late in the third.
Dubois looked at home in front of the net at both ends of the ice – with timely breakups in the defensive zone, and strong moves to the top of the crease in front of Markstrom.
“For a guy who hasn’t played for three weeks, he’s looking pretty good out there,” Ehlers said. “We’re trying to talk to him as much as possible and bring him up to speed.”
Playing his 300th career game in his hometown, Josh Morrissey led the Jets in ice time with 26:51.
Chris Tanev was the most oft-used Flames player with 21:43.
The Jets have now taken a total of seven of a possible ten points from their five meetings with the Flames.
The two sides won’t see each other for the better part of two months – their next meeting comes on March 26th at the Saddledome.
Calgary is off to Vancouver on Thursday night to face the Canucks for the third time this season, while Winnipeg hosts the last-place Ottawa Senators that night at Bell MTS Place.
Kelly Moore hosts the pre-game show on 680 CJOB at 5:00 p.m., and Jamie Thomas and Paul Edmonds have the call of the game at 7:00 p.m.
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