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Flames fall to Jets 3-1 in final exam for many

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

WINNIPEG, MB -- For many, it was the final exam.

And it left coach Bob Hartley plenty to chew on in a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the second-last tune-up before the end of the pre-season schedule for the Calgary Flames.

“They had a good lineup and we put our guys, we basically put the guys we wanted to really evaluate tonight in all kinds of situations, tough situations, offensive situations, defensive situations,” Hartley said. “It’s part of the process. We’ll sit on this and tomorrow morning we’re going to get back and I’m sure we’re going to sit as an organization and we’re going to come up with some decisions.”

The Flames dressed a primarily youthful roster in the hopes of using the game as a further evaluation tool with just one game, also against the Jets, remaining on the pre-season docket.

But Hartley wasn’t handing out the report cards just yet.

“Tonight, saying who I like, if you do the math, your readers will know who we didn’t like,” he said. “I’d like to tell them by myself. I think that we’re not going to cut no one in the media tonight. We’re going to evaluate situations and I thought that tonight was a good test. We still did lots of great things. We did lots of good things. In some instances, we saw a couple of bad decisions cost us but that’s part of the game. That’s why we evaluate players.”

For Garnet Hathaway, a final showing felt good.

“I put everything on the ice right there and I have the whole camp,” he said. “I’m happy with how I’ve done and I’m happy with how I’ve worked. It’s not in my hands right now. I did what I could.”

Deryk Engelland scored Calgary’s lone goal and Joni Ortio made 23 saves as the Winnipeg Jets doused the Flames at MTS Centre on Thursday. Calgary will host the Jets Saturday at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary’s final game before the regular season.

“It was fun to play. It was fun to play,” Ortio said. “The crowd is always great when we come here and for me, it’s a fun place to play. The outcome wasn’t the one we wanted but we just have to build off of this. We did some good things out there. We had chances but we just couldn’t capitalize. We’ll take the positives and keep moving forward.”

Engelland opened the scoring just 3:38 in the game, wristing a high shot over the glove of Jets starter Michael Hutchinson to give the Flames an early 1-0 lead.

It was short lived after Mark Scheifele tapped a Nicolas Petan pass by Joni Ortio at 8:55, and Nikolaj Ehlers cut through the slot and snuck another between the legs of the Calgary netminder with 37.3 seconds remaining in the period.

Ortio held the Flames within one for much of the second, but Scheifele added his second of the game with 1:26 remaining in the period, converting on a pass from Ben Chiarot below the goal line to put Winnipeg up 3-1.

Despite four consecutive power plays, Hutchinson stopped all 15 shots -- including a pair with Calgary’s net empty -- in the third to preserve the 3-1 win. Ortio made 23 saves in defeat.

Hartley didn’t pin the loss on Ortio’s efforts.

“But at the same time, every goalie will go through those situations,” he said. “We can’t fault Joni for the defeat. The Jets were the better team. They executed better than us and they deserved the credit for the win.”

In the bonus 3-on-3 overtime, Tyler Myers ended the extra session 35 seconds in, taking a pass from Bryan Little, throwing on a deke and sliding into the empty net behind Ortio.

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