Full marks for resilience … even if the Calgary Flames settled for just a single point.
The Flames erased a three-goal deficit Friday in a fast, fun and feisty affair at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, although the host Maple Leafs ultimately celebrated a 5-4 shootout victory.
“That resiliency, that’s always good to see,” said Flames centre Nazem Kadri. “Character, effort … That’s always a positive. If there is a takeaway from today’s game, it’s just being able to secure a point and get out of here with at least one of two points.”
Echoed defenceman MacKenzie Weegar after his milestone 400th game: “I like how we showed a little battle-back in the third period to get a point.”
Forward call-ups Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil both scored for the Flames, while Nikita Zadorov and A.J. Greer also tickled twine in TO and Dan Vladar did his part with a 32-save performance.
William Nylander paced the Maple Leafs with a three-point outburst and Max Domi ended the shootout with a top-shelf beauty in the fifth round of the breakaway competition.
Zary continued an impressive introduction by capitalizing on an early rebound. In four outings since being summoned from the minors, the 22-year-old left-winger has yet to be held off the scoresheet.
That’s especially impressive when you consider that it’s been a decade since a Flames rookie started his career on a four-game point-spree. Sean Monahan actually opened with a five-game run in 2013-14. Before that, you’d be going back to 1989-90, when Sergei Makarov announced his arrival by contributing in seven straight.
Zary’s first-period marker was sandwiched by a pair of strikes for the Maple Leafs — a dandy deke by Nylander on the power-play and a backhander from familiar face Calle Jarnkrok, who’d slipped the check of his cousin and former teammate Elias Lindholm.
With his start-of-season point-streak extended to 14 games, Nylander continued to pile ’em up in Friday’s middle stanza. With the Flames on the power-play, he stripped the puck from Noah Hanifin in the neutral zone and sniped a blocker-side shortie. Less than four minutes later, he set up a wide-open John Tavares with a nifty no-look pass.
Despite trailing by three, the Flames didn’t show any quit.
Zadorov picked the top shelf with a slapper through traffic — Jonathan Huberdeau, in the spotlight after Tuesday’s third-period benching, earned an assist — and Greer continued to whittle away with a gorgeous re-direct.
Pospisil, in his third NHL appearance, evened things up early in the final frame, causing some chaos on the forecheck and ultimately burying a backhand from the edge of the blue paint. The 23-year-old thumper also finished the night with a game-high five hits.
Starting in place of an injured Jacob Markstrom, Vladar made several clutch saves to help force overtime. He stopped three of five attempts in the shootout, but Yegor Sharangovich had the lone reply for the Flames.
The crew from Calgary is back at it Saturday for a clash with the Senators in Ottawa (5 p.m. MT, Sportsnet One/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
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