CALGARY – If only someone on the Calgary Flames was able to make the same sort of statement on the ice as Dillon Dube made off it Wednesday night.

If only someone could step up when it matters most to turn the endless moral support they’ve afforded Jacob Markstrom into goal support.

Markstrom’s fifth-straight start ended with his fifth-straight loss, which is equal parts crime and deception.

The 32-year-old netminder deserves so much better.

Not just in the win column, but from the masses who keep framing Markstrom for the team’s struggles of late.

Sure, it’s well documented that early in the season the man was a shadow of his former self, struggling behind a reformed blue line that continues to take its time finding its way.

He wasn’t too far off when he suggested he “sucked at hockey right now.”

No longer.

The reality is that Markstrom has been back in his Vezina-calibre form all month, surrendering just 11 goals in his last 5 starts.

His team in front of him has scored just six in that span.

And while some will want to pin the team’s latest of three-straight extra-time losses on the man whose club was down 2-0 less than two minutes in, it’s Markstrom who deserves credit for the single points he’s now stolen in consecutive outings.

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“I think we’re beating it to death here,” said Dube when asked about his goalie’s confidence level following the team’s fourth-straight loss. 

“He’s a great goalie. Everyone in this room knows how great of a goalie he is, especially what he’s done in this league.

“I don’t really think there should be any questions about him anymore. He’s a spectacular goalie and he kept us in the last couple games.”

Sure did.

Of the 24 saves he had to make in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Vancouver, a handful of dandies came late in the game and in overtime, including a breakaway stop on Ilya Mikheyev with a minute left in extra time.

Yet, because this team is still reeling offensively from the loss of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames couldn’t get him the second point.

Again.

The Flames have played three great games in a row, dating back to their roadie through Toronto and Montreal.

But in all three they’ve only been able to muster loser points because no one has been able to step up offensively.

“This whole month has clearly been our best month,” said Darryl Sutter.

“We’ve got points in six of the eight games. 

“The difference is the difference-maker. 

“You get the extra or late opportunities, whether it’s the power play, overtime or shootouts – that’s where your best players have got to be difference-makers for sure.”

Until then, it’s Markstrom who keeps taking a sizable portion of the blame from an understandably frustrated fan base.

Unfairly.

It’s easy to point his way when your club is down 2-0, but it was Markstrom who battled back from two pretty good goals to lift his team to a 2-2 tie by period’s end.

“Bad luck early,” said Sutter, who was buoyed by his club’s “big point.”

“I thought we had a really good start and they scored a deflection goal and a lost-coverage goal quick, but I thought we were resilient and we battled back.”

And they did it by giving big minutes once again to their top four defencemen, leaving precious little ice time for Connor Mackey and Michael Stone on the third pairing.

Up front, the goals came from Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane and Trevor Lewis. 

But in overtime, the Canucks carried the play.

In the shootout, no Flame found the net, including Jonathan Huberdeau, Dube and Backlund.

A lone shootout snipe by Andrei Kuzmenko off the inside of the post was the difference.

Offence is this club’s looming issue, not the goaltending of late. 

“Those goals that were scored (against Markstrom) tonight were really good hockey goals,” said Dube of goals by Bo Horvat, Conor Garland and Sheldon Dries.

“He played really well the last couple games and kept us in the games.

“We’ve got to bear down – we need these points. 

“It’s tough when you go three in a row with extra minutes and can’t grab that extra point.

“You’re playing good in tight games and have to find a way to win.

“That’s what really good teams do, and we need to get to that.”

They’re certainly not there yet.

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