Flames refuse to go down gently in comeback win over Jets

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Their backs were against the ropes.

Their opponents, the Winnipeg Jets (33-15-5), were hitting them with everything they had..

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And in that moment, the Calgary Flames (26-25-5) needed to decide whether they were going to take a knee or fight back.

In their two previous games, the Flames had seemingly gone with the former option, falling to the lowly San Jose Sharks and then getting shutout by the Detroit Red Wings.

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With trade talk swirling and star players already being sent packing this season, maybe it was inevitable that the Flames would start to slip.

On Monday afternoon, though, the Flames fought back.

After a rough start, they clawed their way back and scored five unanswered goals to secure a desperately-needed 6-3 win over a very good Jets team.

“It means a lot,” said Nazem Kadri, who scored twice and added a beautiful assist during the Family Day matinee. “I feel like we’ve done that several times this year, as well. When things start to snowball and stack against us, we’re able to just kind of re-set and re-focus and pull out a great win against a great team.

“I’m very proud of the guys.”
Beating the Jets doesn’t suddenly change the trajectory of the Flames season. They’re still three points out of a wild card position, although credit where it’s due, that’s better than they were heading into Monday’s action. The St. Louis Blues falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier in the day definitely improved the Flames’ playoff chances.

But even removed from the context of the post-season picture, it still felt like Monday’s comeback was significant for this group.

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It doesn’t matter if Craig Conroy is actively engaging in conversations with other teams about trading Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Jacob Markstrom. You still don’t want the group of players wearing your team’s jersey to be giving up.

And after two games where it didn’t seem like the Flames had much fight left in them, they changed the narrative a little bit on Monday afternoon.

When their backs were against the ropes, they refused to throw in the towel.

And it feels significant that it was their veterans who led the way.

Kadri scored two. Jonathan Huberdeau got one, finishing off a pretty play orchestrated by Rasmus Andersson. Blake Coleman buried a crucial goal near the end of the first period to shift the momentum and Andrew Mangiapane got one, too, while Oliver Kylington notched his first goal since May 22, 2022 to open the evening’s scoring.

Calgary Flames defenceman Oliver Kylington celebrates his goal on the Winnipeg Jets in the first period at the Saddledome on Monday
Calgary Flames defenceman Oliver Kylington celebrates his goal on the Winnipeg Jets in the first period at the Saddledome on Monday, February 19, 2024. Brent Calver/Postmedia Photo by Brent Calver /Postmedia

“Those are the nights where you need them to be the best players,” said Flames head coach Ryan Huska. “Your young guys, need to give you a little bit of juice from time to time but when you need to be at your very best you have to be led by certain people and those are the guys that have to do it. Naz was really good to night, Hubie was good, Mikael’s line, when we needed them to go they shifted the game for us and that’s what you need.”
Jacob Markstrom’s performance needs to be acknowledged, too, and he had one moment in particular that seemed to shift the game’s momentum.

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After getting pulled in the second period against the Red Wings on Saturday, Markstrom was beaten three times by Sean Monahan early in Monday’s game.
With the Flames down 3-2, Monahan had an open look at the net and fired a laser towards the top corner on Markstrom’s glove side.

If it had gone in, it would have felt disastrous.

But instead, Markstrom snatched the puck from the air and kept momentum on the Flames’ side.

It was a huge moment and Markstrom wasn’t beaten again.

“Obviously, giving up four goals in a period would have been pretty tragic,” Kadri said. “It would have been easy for him to say ‘Hey, I’m having an off night, re-set tomorrow’ but he fights, man. He fights and he battles and we saw that tonight.”
We saw that tonight from a lot of the Flames. Their veterans stepped up. Guys like Kadri, Huberdeau, Coleman and Backlund who aren’t going to be traded before the March 8 deadline.

Whether they can go on a run to get them into the playoffs is anybody’s guess.
But at least on Monday, they showed that they’re still fighting.

“You can bend but you don’t want to break, and that’s what we did,” Huberdeau said.

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