In Jarnkrok’s Flames debut, Markstrom steals spotlight in more ways than one

The most entertaining moment of an otherwise bland affair came minutes after a surprising 1-0 overtime loss to bottom-feeding Buffalo.

While Darryl Sutter wasn’t thrilled with his club being blanked for the second time in three outings, the Flames coach’s biggest beef revolved around how long it took to get stitches for Erik Gudbranson.  

“I could have done it in five minutes,” said the Jolly Rancher. “I sew horses and cows in ten minutes.”

It’s an appropriate segue for a horse crap game that saw the hosts lose on the most unfortunate of gaffes.

On a night in which the spotlight was supposed to be on Calle Jarnkrok, the debut of the Flames’ latest addition was overshadowed by his childhood bestie, Jacob Markstrom.

Clearly the game’s first star with a series of his 33 saves getting the Flames into a scoreless overtime opportunity, Markstrom got a tad overzealous in the extra frame.

Less than two minutes away from tying Miikka Kiprusoff’s franchise record of ten shutouts in a season, the towering netminder charged out to the hash marks to play a loose puck heading his way. Fanning on his attempt to fire the puck up ice to a waiting teammate, the puck was immediately corralled by Tage Thompson who put the puck into the empty net.

“It’s tough to watch,” said Mikael Backlund. “Marky played really well for us tonight. Kept us in the game multiple times. It wasn’t good enough from us but Marky was our best player. It’s an unfortunate break there.”

To be clear, the netminder who has just one regulation loss in his last 18 outings did not cost the Flames the win.

He stole them the point.

“It’s a good point – that might be the point that gets you into the playoffs,” said Sutter, emphasizing just how much harder his players should expect it to be to score as the schedule winds down and the games get more important and intense. “He made some saves in the second where we gave up the middle of the ice four or five times.

“He probably got us to OT. You could win that game 1-0 easily too. Missed chances. That’s the way it works in March. Same game we played in Colorado (a 3-0 loss on Sunday). Gotta score a big goal.”

Jarnkrok’s debut saw him centre a line between Tyler Toffoli and Andrew Mangiapane, where he was noticeable largely for finishing three checks.

However, with seven minutes left in the second period, Mangiapane made a no-look pass to a wide-open Jarnkrok on the right side of Dustin Tokarski. The netminder dove across the net in desperation, somehow finding a way to get his glove on Jarnkrok’s one-timer.

Sutter said his plan was to ease him in with five-on-five play, but clearly gained confidence in him enough to use him in overtime as part of his 12-minutes of ice time.

“He got better as the game went on,” said Sutter, whose club sent a season-low 24 shots at Buffalo’s net. “I think the first period he was kind of watching a little bit, but after that I thought he was really good.”

Not quite as good as his cousin, Elias Lindholm, and Markstrom have pumped up their bestie the last two days.

“His cousin and the goalie hit me over the head about it,” chuckled Sutter Friday morning, when asked about whether he sought out intel on the newcomer. “I told Lindy, ‘be careful, if you think he’s that good he’ll take your ice time.’ You can value a guy right out of your role.”

The hits just keep on coming with Darryl’s daily quote.

His frustration over what he called “knitting” revolved around Gudbranson missing the first 10 minutes of the second period to have his face stitched up.

The Flames’ eighth overtime loss of the season would be of more concern if the NHL played three-on-three in the playoffs.

Either way, the coach will have less than 24 hours to decide if he’ll give Markstrom a chance to play against his former club in Vancouver Saturday night.

You can bet Markstrom, who stormed off the ice and smashed his stick on the bench following his hiccup, is making his pitch to get back in there. Immediately.

“He knows he stopped three or four breakaways there, so he was the reason we got into overtime there,” said Trevor Lewis. “He kept us in the game. Give him a tap on the pad. He’s a competitor, so we know he’ll be coming back strong.”

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