The Calgary Flames headed to Winnipeg on Wednesday evening for an exhibition date with the Jets. The Flames were fed a bit of humble pie, as they were largely out-played by the Jets, being out-shot by a hefty margin and losing by a 3-2 score.

The rundown

The home side was all over the Flames early (and often), and they took advantage of a pair of Flames defensive miscues to give themselves a first period lead.
First, Brad Richardson couldn’t quite clear the defensive zone. A few passes later, and Josh Morrissey put a seeing-eye shot low stick-side, just past Dan Vladar’s pad, to make it 1-0 Jets.
A little later, the Flames made the strategic misstep of giving Nikolaj Ehlers time to operate in offensive zone off the rush. That gave him enough time to rifle off a precision shot that beat Vladar high glove side to make it 2-0 Jets.
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Shots were 17-3 Jets in the first period.
So, Blake Coleman crunched Jansen Harkins in the second period. The Jets didn’t like the hit and Harkins briefly left the game, but later returned. Coleman was penalized. When he left the box, several Jets players (notably Dominic Toninato) expressed their concerns with the hit. While they were doing that, Glenn Gawdin took advantage of the chaos and beat Connor Hellebuyck to cut the Jets’ lead to 2-1.
The Jets received a penalty for their interrogation of Coleman. On the ensuing power play, some nice passing from Oliver Kylington to Dillon Dube led to Andrew Mangiapane deflecting Dube’s shot from the right point past Hellebuyck to tie the game at 2-2.
Shots were 12-8 Jets in the second period.
The Flames pressed in the third period, but Nikita Zadorov took an offensive zone penalty. On the resulting power play, Ehlers took advantage of an inadvertent Chris Tanev screen and put a shot between Tavev’s legs and Vladar’s five-hole to give Winnipeg a 3-2 lead.
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The Flames scored late to seemingly tie the game, but the goal was called back due to Matthew Tkachuk playing it with a high stick. They couldn’t muster a tying goal and this game ended as a pre-season loss for Calgary.

Why the Flames lost

Well, the Jets looked really good. Missing Mark Scheifele but otherwise dressing their NHL lineup, the Jets looked organized, poised and full of pep. The Flames were on their heels for the first half of this game, were constantly out-shot, and just couldn’t muster enough counter-punch offense to win.
Honestly, the real reason this game was even close was Vladar’s superb goaltending.

Red Warrior

Vladar was really busy in this game, but he was quite calm, collected and steady in net. In short: he was exactly what the Flames needed him to be on this occasion.
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Some other Flames had flashes of strong play – stick-taps to Coleman, Kylington, Gawdin and a few others – but Vladar was the only one who was consistently strong.

The turning point

Honestly, the whole hubbub around Coleman’s hit in the second period swung the game for the Flames. The chaos around his exit from the penalty box allowed Gawdin to score, and he drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that led to the tying power play goal. Coleman waking up and choosing chaos on a sleepy Wednesday in Winnipeg gave the Flames a chance to win this one.

This and that

For the curious, the Flames’ lines for the evening:
Tkachuk – Lindholm – Coleman
Mangiapane – Dube – Ritchie
Richardson – Backlund – Lewis
Lucic – Gawdin – Duehr
Hanifin – Andersson
Zadorov – Tanev
Kylington – Gudbranson
Vladar went the distance in net, backed up by Jacob Markstrom.
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Up next

The Flames are back in pre-season action on Friday night when they host the Winnipeg Jets in their final game of the exhibition calendar.