Pelletier injured as Flames blanked by Rangers in road-trip finale

This was far from a fairytale ending.

The Flames not only lost Monday’s matchup with the New York Rangers, winding up on the wrong end of a goaltending duel as they wrapped a four-game getaway with a 2-0 setback at Madison Square Garden.

They also lost just-returned winger Jakob Pelletier to an upper-body injury. The 22-year-old Pelletier was crunched on a breakout by Rangers captain Jacob Trouba and seemed to favouring his left shoulder, the same part that he had surgically repaired in the fall. He missed all of October, November and December and was appearing Monday in just his eighth game of the season — four of those in the minors and four since being recalled after the all-star break.

You certainly hope, for this fountain-of-positivity forward, this wasn’t a case of re-injury as he absorbed a hard — and clean — check from Trouba on what was just his second shift of the evening. Pelletier briefly remained on the bench before eventually retreating to the locker-room.

A few hours prior to puck-drop, the Flames were celebrating the news that their stalwart netminder, Jacob Markstrom, had been saluted as the NHL’s first star of the week. He delivered another stellar performance in Manhattan, but Igor Shesterkin was even better. He pitched a 30-save shutout in the home crease, highlighted by gorgeous gloves on Nazem Kadri and Rasmus Andersson and a couple of clutch stops on Blake Coleman as the Flames pushed for a late equalizer.

Markstrom made several highlight-reel stops in the early stages, including a pair of point-blank beauties — first on Chris Kreider, then Vincent Trochek — during a stretch of four-on-four action. He later snagged a sure goal from Blake Wheeler on a broken play.

The Rangers finally snuck one past him at the 12:31 mark of the middle stanza, after a missed connection between Oliver Kylington and Coleman resulted in a turnover at the offensive blue-line. The hosts headed the other direction on an odd-man rush and while Kaapo Kakko was denied on the initial opportunity, rookie Will Cuylle cashed his second whack at the rebound.

Markstrom finished with 29 saves. He was on the bench in the final minute when Jimmy Vesey swiped the puck from Noah Hanifin and fired into an empty net.

ICE CHIPS: The Flames will now return home for four in a row at the Saddledome, starting with Thursday’s showdown with the San Jose Sharks (7 p.m. MT, Sportsnet One/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).

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