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Calgary Flames miss chance to clinch playoff spot in 6-1 loss to Vegas Golden Knights

In his first career start in his hometown, goaltender Logan Thompson helped the Vegas Golden Knights get a win they really needed over the host Calgary Flames on Thursday.

Thompson, a 25-year-old from Calgary, made 35 saves in a 6-1 victory that kept the Golden Knights in the playoff hunt with seven regular-season games remaining in their season.

“It’s something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” Thompson said. “Really excited and couldn’t be happier.

“I had my brother and my sister here and a couple friends from growing up. Happy they could make it tonight.”

The Golden Knights (41-29-5) were two points back of the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators holding down the Western Conference’s wild-card berths with 89 points apiece.

Read more: Johnny Gaudreau hits 100 points as Flames come back to win 5-3 over Kraken

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The Stars eked a point out of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild, while the Preds were blanked 4-0 by the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson each had a goal and two assists for Vegas. Jack Eichel, Evgeni Dadonov, Michal Amadio and Nicolas Roy were the Knights’ other goal scorers and Mattias Janmark had two assists.

The Flames (45-20-9) at the top of the Pacific Division needed a single point to clinch an NHL playoff spot and be the second club in the West to do so following the Colorado Avalanche on April 6.

But the Golden Knights rattled off six unanswered goals, including four in the second period at the Saddledome.

Click to play video: 'Calgary Flames head into All-Star break in playoff position'
Calgary Flames head into All-Star break in playoff position

“We’re obviously a more desperate team than they are as far as the standings go,” Knights head coach Peter DeBoer said.

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Flames starter Jacob Markstrom was pulled at 9:04 of the second period for Dan Vladar after allowing four goals on 17 shots. Vladar turned away six of eight shots in relief.

It was the second straight abbreviated game for Markstrom, who was replaced by Vladar after giving up three goals in the first two periods of Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Seattle Kraken.

“I don’t like doing that,” said Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “I’m not a guy who pulls goalies. I think tonight was different. The other night was trying to get some momentum out of our team because it was after the second period.

“Tonight, I thought the players really let him down. I didn’t want to leave him in there.”

Dillon Dube scored Calgary’s lone goal in front of an announced 17,070 at the Saddledome.

Thompson’s 11th career start was also just his 13th appearance in an NHL game. He went 6-3 over a stretch in late March when both Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossoit were injured.

“I think he won four in a row prior to Lenny coming back and then we ran with Lenny to try and get him back up to speed because he’s missed some time,” DeBoer said. “L.T. came in and did a great job in a tough building.

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“We haven’t had a lot of success in this building and he was real solid for us.”

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The Flames were looking for a sixth straight win Thursday. Dube’s power-play goal midway through the first period gave the hosts an early lead, but they didn’t score again.

A pair of Flames’ turnovers 40 seconds apart led to a 4-1 Vegas lead by the midpoint of the second period, and the swap of Markstrom for Vladar.

“They’re a very, very desperate team fighting for their lives,” Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “The season they’ve had, we know they’re a way better team than what the standings show.

“If you want to go far this year, it’s going to have to go through them. It’s unfortunate we dropped the ball against them tonight, but hopefully we get another crack at them.”

Knights defenceman Brayden McNabb blew a skate blade blocking a shot and couldn’t get on his feet in the first period.

Read more: Leon Draisaitl nets hat trick as Edmonton Oilers win 4-0 in Nashville

After he dove to block another shot, teammate Chandler Stephenson grabbed McNabb’s stick and towed him to within range of the bench for McNabb to scramble through the gate.

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Keegan Kolesar’s illegal hit to the head of Flames defenceman Chris Tanev garnered a minor, but a coincidental Blake Coleman hooking penalty followed by a Rasmus Andersson holding penalty gave the Knights a four-on-three they didn’t cash into a late first-period goal.

Calgary’s Milan Lucic took a holding minor early in the second period trying to take Kolesar on. Dadonov scored the go-ahead goal a second after that penalty expired.

“We obviously didn’t really like the hit and loved what Looch did trying to go after him,” Tkachuk said. “(Kolesar) wanted no part of that and wanted no part of kind of anything after that.”

The Flames are at home to the Arizona Coyotes and the Knights face the Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday.

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