Flames goalie Dustin Wolf makes a save against the Sharks during the first period of a game Wednesday in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

Flames goalie Dustin Wolf makes a save against the Sharks during the first period of a game Wednesday in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

Ex-Silvertips star goaltender Wolf earns win in NHL debut

The 21-year-old, who leads the American Hockey League with 41 victories, made 23 saves in Calgary’s 3-1 win.

Associated Press

CALGARY, Alberta — Former Everett Silvertips start goaltender Dustin Wolf made 23 saves in his NHL debut and the Calgary Flames ended a disappointing season with a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.

Calgary finished fifth in the Pacific at 38-27-17 and 93 points, a year after winning the division with 111. The Flames have missed the playoffs in nine of their last 14 seasons and made the postseason in consecutive years just once in that span.

From Gilroy, California, the 21-year-old Wolf was recalled from the Calgary Wranglers, where he leads the American Hockey League with 41 victories.

“It’s rewarding. You put the work in each and every day and you dream about that as a kid,” said Wolf. “To get that first game and first win, it feels really awesome and obviously leaves you wanting more.”

Wolf played four seasons with the Silvertips from 2017-2021, amassing 106 wins with a career 1.84 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. Wolf earned the Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Year award in 2019-20, as well as the USA Hockey Junior Goalie of the Year award in the same season and the WHL Scholastic player of the Year in 2018-19.

Defenseman Nikita Zadorov had his first career hat trick for Calgary.

“Definitely was hard to find emotions to play that game, for sure,” Zadorov said. “It’s normal when you miss the playoffs.”

Noah Gregor scored for San Jose and Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 46 shots. The Sharks will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

Zadorov gave the Flames the lead at 4:01 of the third, taking a pass from defense partner MacKenzie Weegar and snapping a shot from the blue line into the top corner. Zadorov’s third goal came into an empty net with a minute left.

“I blacked out, not gonna lie,” said Zadorov with a chuckle. “(Rasmus Andersson) told me on the bench just go for it, so first time I hit the D-man and the second time just closed my eyes, feel where the net was, got a lucky bounce. It was nice fade six-iron there. It worked.”

Zadorov finishes the year with 14 goals, doubling his previous career high of seven.

“The Russian Rocket,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter, cracking a rare smile. “Saved it for the last game, should have done it in October.”

Zadorov laughed when told what the coach called him.

“Wasn’t that Pavel Bure’s nickname? I’m far away from that,” Zadorov said.

Forward Matt Coronato also made his NHL debut for the Flames. The 20-year-old selected in the first round of the 2021 draft signed with Calgary on March 26 after his college season with Harvard ended.

Coronato played on a line with fellow rookie Jakob Pelletier and Nazem Kadri, and showed his offensive instincts throughout the night, generating a few scoring chances and finishing with four shots on goal.

“I know they were really disappointed probably the way they were bumped out of the playoffs. I liked their game,” Sharks coach David Quinn said of the Flames.

“They were really on their toes. I thought we had spurts where we were pretty competitive and did some good things but just thought they were the better team tonight.”

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