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Vladar posts another shutout as Flames’ goalies continue dream-like season

Much like the rest of the hockey world, Dan Vladar was having a hard time believing what had just unfolded.

“If you would have told me yesterday I’d have a shutout I wouldn’t have believed you,” said the Calgary Flames backup goaltender after posting his second consecutive goose egg in a 4-0 win Sunday over his former Boston Bruins teammates.

“We’ve got to keep this going because winning hockey games is fun. It’s just in a dream right now.”

A dream of historic proportions.

En route to their early perch atop the Western Conference standings, the Flames have now posted a remarkable seven shutouts in their first 19 games.

It’s the first time a team has done that since — wait for it — the NHL started allowing offensive forward passes in 1929.

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Even the most skeptical of Flames observers agreed Darryl Sutter’s system would bolster the team’s defensive stats.

But this is a tad other-worldly.

Out-duelling the goalkeeper the Bruins chose to keep over him this summer, Jeremy Swayman, Vladar stopped all 27 shots he faced as part of a homecoming he wouldn’t allow himself to get too wrapped up in.

“I wasn’t trying to think about who I was playing against because obviously I’ve got a bunch of friends on the Bruins team,” said Vladar, who spent six years with the Bruins after being drafted 75th overall in 2015.

“It was my mindset to come here and not to laugh around with guys — I wasn’t even saying ‘hi’ to them before the game. I was trying to focus on my game and get the W. I wanted to do well.

“I know who I was playing against and I knew who my family was here. I was just fighting for our team and I really feel like a part of this team.”

Vladar’s shutout was the first for the Flames against Boston since Miikka Kiprusoff did the trick in 2005.

Expect to hear Kipper’s name aplenty the rest of the year as the man who is the gold standard for Flames netminding stands to have several of his records challenged this season with the duo of Vladar and Jacob Markstrom opening the way they have.

Vladar is now 4-0-1, which is the longest point streak to start a tenure with the Flames.

The Flames traded a third-round pick for the 6-foot-6 Czech revelation this summer despite the fact he had just five NHL starts under his belt. He was available because the Bruins had to choose between Swayman and Vladar as their backup, knowing they’d eventually lose the other via waivers. A risky but savvy acquisition made on the recommendation of Flames goalie director Jordan Sigalet.

Getting this start in the TD Garden “he grew up in,” on the back half of a back-to-back marks the stiffest test he’s had yet.

“I wouldn’t say anxious, but I really didn’t want to waste this opportunity,” said Vladar, 24. “I wanted to come here and prove to our staff and coaches and my teammates I can really play under some pressure people might have thought I had today. This one was special and I’m so happy it ended up how it ended up.”

It was all set up by a Johnny Gaudreau opener that set the table 89 seconds and marked the 12th road game in a row the Flames have scored first.

From there the Flames did well to stay on the right side of the puck to grind away on a Bruins club until midway through the evening, one of the area’s native sons, Noah Hanifin, made it 2-0.

A shorthanded goal by Andrew Mangiapane early in the third was quickly followed by a dagger by Mikael Backlund that left only the shutout in question.

Or was it really ever in question?

“He was solid,” said Sutter of Vladar, whose big body did well to make the bulk of his saves look far more routine than they were. “His team was really good in front of him. There wasn’t a whole lot of second chances.

“Boston is a team that goes to the net and crashes, gets guys in front of the net. A lot of screens and things like that. Our defence did a good job in front of him.”

Everyone did, as the buy-in couldn’t be more obvious given just how taxing the team’s seven-game road-trip was.

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ROAD WARRIORS

The win gave the Flames 10 of a possible 14 points on an eastern roadie that ended with three straight wins and a 4-1-2 record.

Their 9-2-2 road record is tops in the league, as is their plus-27 goal differential.

Shocking, all.

“I think this is our eighth game in 13 days with two back-to-backs,” Sutter said. “Give the players credit. It’s not easy.”

Oh, they’re getting plenty of credit these days, to be sure. The Flames are now 11-1-2 against the east, but have yet to beat a team from the west. They’ll start getting that chance Tuesday when they open a three-game homestand against Chicago.

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LOCAL BOYS SHINE

The Flames’ first two goals came from Boston College grads Gaudreau and Hanifin, who are both on a tear of late.

Gaudreau’s goal gives him 22 points, which is good for fourth in the league. His father, Guy, was in attendance, after driving six hours to see his son play yet another game on the eastern swing.

Hanifin’s first goal of the year was his fourth point in the last two games and it came with plenty of family in the stands as well. The Boston native has 11 points in 14 games against the Bruins — the most of any team in the NHL.

“It’s always fun coming home to play in Boston – every time I come here it’s always such a blast,” Hanifin said. “To get the win and play as good as we did as a team was great.”

Clearly plenty of Bostonians remember the role Milan Lucic played in their 2011 Stanley Cup win, prompting the “Loooooch” chant several times throughout the game.

Mangiapane has no ties to the area but continues to be a fascinating and prominent part of the Flames success, adding his shorthanded goal to essentially secure the win. His league-leading 14th road goal was his 15th snipe of the season and it came with Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong in attendance. If he is to make the Olympic team it would be as a depth forward whose forechecking ability and penalty killing skills would be called upon.

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