Flames hand Canucks 6th straight loss in series opener
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Mark Giordano had a goal and an assist as the Calgary Flames beat Vancouver 3-1 on Thursday night for the Canucks’ sixth straight loss.
Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves to help Calgary open the four-game series against Vancouver with its third victory in a row. Andrew Mangiapane and Johnny Gaudreau also scored, and Sean Monahan had two assists.
“They came out flying,” Markstrom said. “They play such a fast game and in the first period, we didn’t really find our legs at the start. But overall I thought we kept them to shots from the outside and stuff like that, letting me see the puck.
“They’re a desperate team and they played a great game today. We’re happy we got away with the two points.”
Markstrom spent seven seasons with the Canucks. But on this night, he was a Vancouver opponent at Rogers Arena for the first time.
“I think before tonight, this is the only building I hadn’t been in the visitor room,” Markstrom said. “It’s weird to land and take the bus, staying at a hotel when it’s been home for so long.”
Brock Boeser scored for Vancouver, and Thatcher Demko stopped 23 shots.
“It’s frustrating,” teammate Elias Pettersson said. “Everyone in our group, everyone in the locker room just wants to win a game and get back at it because we know what we’re capable of. But like I said, it’s not going our way right now but we’ll figure it out.”
The Canucks pulled Demko for an extra attacker with more than two minutes on the clock, but couldn’t get the puck past their former goaltender.
“He battled for us all night. He kept us in there at times and he made some big saves,” Monahan said about Markstrom. “When your goalie’s doing that, it gives you some jump and gives you a real good chance to win games.”
Facing a hot goaltender can get into a forward’s head, he added.
“When you’re playing against a goalie like that, sometimes you start overthinking and you try to make an extra pass to get a better look and it starts to get frustrating,” Monahan explained. “Marky’s a great goalie and I’m really happy he’s on our team.”
A couple of unlucky bounces made the difference, Canucks coach Travis Green said.
“As much as you hate losing, our guys are smart enough to know they played a pretty good hockey game,” he said.
“They know if we bring that game to the table, you’re going to win more than you lose. You’re not going to win every game when you play well — that’s just the way the league is. The league is too good. But I’m comfortable our guys know that if they bring that type of effort, good things are going to happen.”
The teams will meet again Saturday night and Monday night in Vancouver, then finish the series Wednesday night in Calgary.
NOTES: A short thank you video for Markstrom, defenseman Chris Tanev and forward Josh Leivo played on the big screen midway through the first period, eliciting stick taps from the Vancouver bench. The trio played for the Canucks last season before signing with the Flames in free agency and Thursday marked their first game back in Vancouver. ... Boeser and Pettersson are both riding five-game point streaks, with each registering two goals and three assists. … Vancouver’s Justin Bailey left early in the second period after being run into the boards hard by Milan Lucic. The winger was hunched over as he headed straight down the tunnel. It was later announced Bailey would not return due to an upper-body injury. … Canucks center Jay Beagle played in his 600th NHL game.
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