Resiliency won Flames the night, but Vladar is the story of this homestand

Rasmus Andersson found the back of the net and notched two assists while Dan Vladar made 25 saves to lift the Calgary Flames to a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.

CALGARY – One day after Jacob Markstrom trumpeted the virtues of having a short memory, his backup demonstrated why.

Making his third straight start for the first time in his career, Dan Vladar and the Calgary Flames bounced back from a couple of dramatic setbacks Wednesday night in a game they came back to win 5-3 over the red-hot Minnesota Wild.

And while their resiliency was the story of the night, the story of their 4-1 homestand was Vladar, who started every one of those wins.

“We just kind of… bet on the horse and rode him,” smiled Darryl Sutter, who has given Markstrom time to find his game by starting Vladar six of the last eight games.

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Vladar made 25 saves and was a big part of stymying all four Minnesota power plays en route to the team’s third straight win.

The last time the Flames won three in a row was the start of the season when they opened that way.

“Obviously it’s a dream come true for me – it’s what I was working for, especially with Barbs, Siggy and Marky for when the opportunity comes,” Vladar told Sportsnet Fan 960 afterwards, giving props to goalie coach Jason Labarbera, goalie director Jordan Sigalet and his tandem mate.

“I still have to stay humble and work on the details. … Barbs is really good to make sure I don’t fly high in the skies.”

It may have been tough to stay grounded early on against Minnesota, when the Wild led 2-0 less than three minutes in. 

Vladar hung in for the rest of the frame, setting the stage for a three-goal response from the Flames in the opening 3:11 of the second period.

They did it on the strength of a once-struggling power play, which has scored twice in each of their last two games.

However, the team’s ability to bounce back was tested in the final five minutes when a Jon Merrill point shot bounced in off of Chris Tanev’s stick to tie the game 3-3.

A mere 12 seconds later Rasmus Andersson stepped up to play the hero, taking a Blake Coleman pass off of his skate, cutting across the crease and depositing a backhand past Marc-Andre Fleury for the game-winner in a 5-3 triumph.

It was his third point of the night, as he’d earlier assisted on two second-period goals.

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“First thing that went through my mind is, ‘that’s it, we’re winning this game – I’m not letting any more in,’” said Vladar, who has won four in a row and has a save percentage of .928 in his last seven starts.

“Obviously (the opening) three minutes were tough, but after that I said, ‘it’s going to be a good night.’ … There were a couple ups and downs in that game, but the most important thing is the outcome.”

The Flames now head out on a three-game in four-night trip through Columbus, Toronto and Montreal, where it’s likely Markstrom will return to the net Friday against Johnny Gaudreau and the Blue Jackets.

Expect Vladar to face the Leafs one night later.

“It was important to finish the homestand (with a win),” said Sutter, who credited the power play as the key to victory.

“We talked about it, against a team that’s going to be in a race with, that’s for sure.”
With the help and encouragement of Markstrom, Vladar continues to bridge the gap for a Flames team that desperately needed to start stringing together wins.

He’s won four in a row at home, in a building he only started three times last season.

“It was a big game for our team and now we keep building,” said Andersson, whose game-winner was followed by an empty-netter by Tyler Toffoli, his second of the game.

“The small stuff is clicking lately, our power play and penalty kill and 5-on-5 is better, and we have good goaltending.”

Are the lads excited to face Gaudreau for the first time as a Blue Jacket?

“You guys make it bigger than it is,” smirked Andersson. “It’s a part of the business. It’s free agents every year. People can pick and choose where they want to play if they’re a good player. We’ve moved on and so has Johnny. But it’s obviously going to be special for him to play against Calgary again, as it was special for Johnny (Huberdeau) and Weegs (MacKenzie Weegar) to play against Florida. 

“But for us it’s another game we have to win.”

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