Flames’ starting goalie Jacob Markstrom sidelined week to week with broken finger

Dan Vladar is about to see his workload increase in the Calgary Flames’ net in the near future.

Jacob Markstrom’s fractured finger on his right blocker hand doesn’t require surgery, but the club said Tuesday the status of Calgary’s No. 1 is week to week. The Swede left Monday’s practice when he injured his hand and didn’t return.

Calgary (10-11-3) will look to Vladar and Dustin Wolf, called up from the American Hockey League’s Calgary Wranglers on Tuesday, to take over in goal.

“Jacob’s injury just opens the door for opportunity for both Danny and Dusty,” Flames head coach Ryan Huska said. “We know both guys will give us chances to win, so we’re comfortable playing both for sure.

“The great thing about Jacob’s injury, it’s not as bad as it seemed. Week to week, you could see him one week, could be shortly thereafter. It’s not something we’re expecting to be long term, which is a great thing.”

Vladar was 4-2-1 with a 3.20 goals-against average and .883 save percentage heading into Tuesday night’s game against the visiting Minnesota Wild.

“Vladdy is a really good goalie and a really good person too,” Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson said. “You’ve got to play the same way no matter who plays in net, or who plays on defence or who plays forward.

“Marky will be missed, but we have a lot of faith in all our goalies.”

AHL’s top goalie last season

Markstrom’s record was 6-8-2 with a 2.94 GAA and .896 save percentage. Markstrom is one of the best goalies in the NHL at handling the puck. Andersson says Flames defencemen will adjust in his absence.

Wolf, the AHL’s most valuable player and top goaltender last season, stopped 34 shots in a 4-1 road loss to the Ottawa Senators in his one NHL appearance so far this season.

The Flames’ seventh-round draft pick in 2019 made his NHL debut and earned a win in Calgary’s final game of the 2022-23 regular season.

Wolf owns a 10-3-0 record, 2.50 GAA and .920 save percentage with two shutouts in 13 AHL games this season.

“A terrible thing to happen to Marky yesterday, but a good opportunity for myself to hopefully get an opportunity to play some games and just be around this atmosphere and the guys,” said the 22-year-old Californian.

The Flames were in the middle of a six-game homestand Tuesday with the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils in town Thursday and Saturday respectively.

Calgary opens a three-game road swing with a back-to-back starting Monday against the Colorado Avalanche and Tuesday against the Golden Knights.

Sabres’ Thompson to return vs. Red Wings

Tage Thompson is returning to the Sabres’ lineup well ahead of initial projections and is set to play in Buffalo’s home game Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

The top-line centre said after the morning skate he’s ready to return, and coach Don Granato confirmed Thompson has been cleared to play.

“[Thompson] felt his conditioning is in a really good place,” Granato said. “He wanted to feel a little battle this morning, and he knows his body well. He knows what it takes to perform and wanted this morning to confirm it, and that’s great news.”

Thompson, who led the team in scoring the past two seasons, was projected to miss four to six weeks after blocking a shot with his left arm in a 5-2 loss to Boston on Nov. 14. Thompson missed just nine games over the past three weeks.

The 26-year-old rejoins the Sabres at a time they could use a boost, having lost three straight and four of five to slip into seventh place in the Atlantic Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference.

“Obviously, ahead of schedule, but it feels good,” Thompson said. “There’s been no issues, and obviously I got it cleared medically, so, I mean, it’s kind of just up to me now.”

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