They’re on a point streak.
And a winless skid.
The Calgary Flames settled for yet another loser point in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout setback to the division rival Vancouver Canucks at the Saddledome.
It was the Flames’ third straight defeat in bonus-time — two bummers in the breakaway competition, another unhappy ending in overtime.
In baseball, back-to-back-to-back singles is considered a rally.
In hockey, it hardly feels that way.
“Nah, I like two points,” said Flames netminder Jacob Markstrom.
On this evening, their first home-ice appearance in a week, the Flames claimed only one.
Just like they had in Montreal.
Just like they had in Toronto.
(Prior to that, it was a regulation loss in Columbus, so this is four straight frowns.)
“It’s tough when you go three in a row with extra minutes and can’t grab that extra point,” said Flames speedster Dillon Dube, who picked up a pair of assists but fired wide in the shootout. “We’ve gotta bear down. We need these points. When you’re playing good in tight games, you’ve gotta find a way to win. That’s what really good teams do, and we need to get to that and bear down and we’ll be good.
“We’re playing hard. Guys are battling, for sure. So it’s just to find those ways to win and this room will feel a lot better.”
The Flames dug themselves an early hole Wednesday, surrendering a pair of goals within two minutes of the opening faceoff. Canucks captain Bo Horvat fooled his old friend Markstrom with a deft deflection and then Conor Garland picked the top shelf on the short-side.
The locals halved the deficit on a man-advantage, Dube plattering a perfect pass for a re-direct by Mikael Backlund. Before the first intermission, it was back to even. Nazem Kadri spied Andrew Mangiapane with a nifty no-look pass from behind the net, and he managed to squeeze a low shot through Spencer Martin’s pads.
Trevor Lewis put the hosts ahead with a second-period bank-job, bouncing a rebound off Martin’s glove from an impossible angle, but the Canucks answered as Sheldon Dries outhustled Jonathan Huberdeau to create an odd-man rush and finished with a high-glove goal.
It was knotted for the remainder of regulation and through five minutes of three-on-three.
The Flames were skunked in the shootout, with Huberdeau denied on a deke and Dube and Backlund both missing the net. Andrei Kuzmenko had the lone snipe at the opposite end.
And so, a single point.
“It sucks, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” Kadri said. “It’s a long year and I think it’s just important to keep those emotions balanced. We like some of the things we do out there but ultimately, you’d like to finish the job. But those bounces are going to bounce in our favour eventually.
“You just have to keep your chin up. It’s a long season and getting down on yourself or thinking you’re better than you are, both sides of the spectrum can be dangerous. With some experience, you learn that. And I think we have the right attitude in here.”
During his post-game presser, Darryl Sutter was looking at the bright side.
The Flames’ bench boss referred to Wednesday’s result as a “big point for us,” adding that he thought his squad started strong and was unlucky to be trailing by two in the early stages.
“This whole month has clearly been our best month,” Sutter added later. “We have points in six of the eight games. So the difference is the difference-maker, right? You get to the extra or late opportunities, whether it’s a power-play or overtime or shootouts … That’s where your best players have to be difference-makers, for sure.”
AROUND THE BOARDS
Markstrom has lost five straight starts, although the Flames’ go-to goaltender seems to have found his groove again. He finished with 24 saves against the Canucks, none better than a flash of the pad as Ilya Mikheyev raced in alone in overtime. Asked about the performance by his puck-stopping pal, Dube provided an impassioned response. “I think we’re beating it to death here, to be honest,” he said. “He’s a great goalie. Everyone in this room knows what a great goalie he is, especially what he’s done in this league, so I don’t really think there should be any questions about him anymore” … Martin racked up 35 saves in the visiting crease … Flames first-liner Elias Lindholm returned from a one-game absence due to an upper-body injury … Although he wasn’t available against his old club, there was good news on the health of alternate captain Chris Tavev — he didn’t sustain any fractures on that scary shot-block in Montreal. Tanev, who was struck in the head by Nick Suzuki’s slapper and made a trip to hospital in Montreal for an initial evaluation, is officially listed as day-to-day … One is the most experienced dude on the Flames’ roster, with more than 1,100 nights of NHL experience. The other is a recent call-up who has logged a grand total of three games at the big-league level. On Wednesday, Milan Lucic and Matthew Phillips were keeping each other company, both scratched against the Canucks. Lucic, 34, has now been a spectator for three straight dates, while the 24-year-old Phillips was lifted from the lineup after a pair of auditions on the road. It’s pretty clear that Sutter was referencing Phillips — the Calgary-raised right-winger accumulated quite a fan club while filling the net for the AHL’s Wranglers — with this shot after morning skate: “You need guys to not just be popular, you need them to be good.”
OFF THE GLASS
Lewis has scored six goals in 30 spins so far this season. That matches his total in 80 appearances in 2021-22. Sutter leans on the 35-year-old Lewis as a key penalty-killer and dependable checker, so the buries are mostly a bonus … Up next for the Flames is Friday’s battle with the St. Louis Blues at the Saddledome (7 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan), their final home outing before the holiday break. They’ll cruise into Christmas vacation with four in a row on the road … Flames alumni will be hanging out on the concourse Friday, collecting grocery gift-cards and donations for their annual holiday toy drive. Those will be delivered to deserving kids and families in the community … Flames forward prospect Topi Ronni will represent Finland at world juniors. The 18-year-old Ronni was a second-round selection in the 2022 NHL Draft.