Flames’ Markstrom recognizes his faults following loss to Lightning

Nikita Kucherov netted a pair of goals, and Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 39 shots to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Calgary Flames 4-1.

TAMPA – It’s not really clear how Philippe Myers’ point shot was able to elude Jacob Markstrom.

What is clear, is that can’t happen.

And the Calgary Flames netminder was quick to say it himself.

“I’ve got to be better,” said Markstrom, who was handcuffed by the one-timer that went in over Markstrom’s glove with 15 minutes left in a one-goal game.

“We get it back to a one goal lead and they score right after that. 

“That can’t happen. Quick shot. I’ve got to find a lane here and do a better job to catch the release.”

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Indeed, in a tight game in which the Tampa Bay Lightning led the Flames 18-5 in high-danger chances, Elias Lindholm had just halved the Bolts’ lead to 2-1.

The bench was abuzz, as the team’s feisty road effort had them hanging with the big boys.

Alas, only 10 seconds later, before the goal was even announced, the hosts went up 3-1 after Myers took advantage of a giveaway along the boards by snapping the puck in from the blue line.

Deflating? You bet.

Impossible to bounce back from? 

Pretty much, considering you’re facing Andrei Vasilevskiy and the three-time Stanley Cup finalists in their barn.

Although the replay doesn’t seem to indicate any traffic in front other than potentially his own defender, Markstrom was asked if he was screened.

“It doesn’t matter how you look at it, you can always screen yourself,” he explained.

“There’s always people in front of you and a decision on what side to look. I’ve got to do a better job to find those shots.”

Again, given the number of quality saves he had to make to that point, this loss shouldn’t be pinned on the veteran. 

It was merely the insurance marker in a 4-1 game eventually capped by Nikita Kucherov’s empty-netter. 

But you can bet most fans won’t see it that way, as the third period gut punch was a glaring misplay in a game very much up for grabs. 

“If you look strictly at the numbers, I’ve got to be better,” said Markstrom, who now has a 3.06 GAA and .887 save percentage.

“I’ve got to step up here. We’ve got a great team and we’re playing good, and we’re throwing a lot of pucks on their net. Pucks are going to find a way into their net and I’ve got to keep them out.”

Indeed, the Flames deserve credit for outshooting Tampa 40-24. 

But the reality is Vasilevskiy was rarely under much heat or feeling much pressure.

It all could have gone a bit different if not for another twist of fate midway through the first period when Milan Lucic scored what appeared to be his first goal in 50 games.

Alas, the Lightning successfully challenged it, as Nazem Kadri was indeed offside as they entered the zone.

Thirty-eight seconds later, Steven Stamkos gave the Bolts a 1-0 edge.

“It’s tough because momentum our way gets taken away and goes right into momentum their way,” said Lucic of the first period setback.

“I say to myself when they challenge it, ‘Oh god, here we go.’ But it’s one of those things right now, from myself individually, if I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all.

“We did a good job of getting pucks to the net, but it’s getting in his eyes and finding those rebounds.”

Lucic later used the word, “boom” to describe Tampa’s abrupt response to Lindholm’s power-play goal, before going on to defend his netminder.  

“It’s a team game – he has our back and we have his back,” said Lucic, whose club kickstarted a season-long six-game road trip with the loss.

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“We all know what he’s capable of. He’s one of the best goalies in the league. We have full confidence in him, and we want him to have full confidence in himself.”

It’s a work in progress, much like the line combinations and pairings on a team that dropped to 7-7-2. 

Next up are the Florida Panthers Saturday, marking the first meeting of the two teams since Matthew Tkachuk was swapped south for a package that included Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar.

“I’m nervous and excited,” said Huberdeau, echoing the sentiments of plenty of Flames fans who will be curious to tune in.

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