At the Rink: Predators at Flames

Wednesday, 01.27.2016 / 2:31 PM | Aaron Vickers  - Correspondent

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames know the gravity of their situation when they host the Nashville Predators on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; SN1, FS-TN) in the final game for each team before the NHL All-Star break.

The Flames (21-23-3) are 26th in the League standings, 13th in the Western Conference and sixth in the Pacific Division, eight points behind the third-place Arizona Coyotes.

"We recognize the situation," said Flames coach Bob Hartley, whose team surprised by making the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. "We need to put on a streak. Coming back from the All-Star break it's a final sprint; a final sprint with the trade deadline as a hurdler.

"Apart from this, we know where we're at. We have the standings board right in the middle of our gym. It's clear. That should be our only focus. We can talk about goals-for, goals-against, power play, penalty-killing, goaltending … one thing matters right now is getting two points and moving up in the standings."

The Flames start a three-game homestand after going 1-3-1 on a five-game road trip that ended with losses to the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars on consecutive nights.

"You have to forget about them," Hartley said. "The good part of this business is you play so many games that you can build on positive stuff and you have to forget about negative stuff. Yes, after a game we're mad and frustrated. The next morning, you have to forget about this.

"You have to have the ability to understand and recognize situations and move on. This is a great group of guys. We've been very inconsistent since the start of the year, and that explains our situation. But we've put ourselves in that situation. Let's shock the hockey world one more time."

Problems on the road -- the Flames are 7-14-3 away from home -- aren't the only source of struggle for Calgary.

At 13.9 percent, Calgary's power play is 30th in the NHL. The penalty kill, at 75.7 percent, is 29th. The Flames also have the second-highest goals-against average at 3.02.

And the Flames are 4-8-2 against Pacific opponents.

"The situation we're in right now, there is not much room for error and we know that," Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. "We start looking too far ahead, that's when we get into trouble. We lost a couple in a row and we've got to get one back here, and then get a good break and come back fresh and ready to go. We know where we're at in the standings, and there's not much room for error."

Giordano said the push needs to start against the Predators, who are one point behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

"I just feel like the position we are in, we have to be a pretty desperate team tonight," he said. "We need the two points. It's always nice to go into the break with a win and hopefully come out of it on the other side. We need to get up for this game no matter if we have a break coming up or not; it's so important."

The Predators (23-18-8), who have won three straight and four of their past five (4-1-0), did not have a morning skate Wednesday. They defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 on Tuesday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Mike Ribeiro - Ryan Johansen - James Neal

Filip Forsberg - Mike Fisher - Craig Smith

Miikka Salomaki - Calle Jarnkrok - Austin Watson

Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Cody Bass

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Petter Granberg

Ryan Ellis - Barret Jackman

Carter Hutton

Pekka Rinne

Injured: Colin Wilson (lower body), Gabriel Bourque (upper body)

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Kevin Fiala


Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Mason Raymond

Sam Bennett - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik

Lance Bouma - Markus Granlund - Jiri Hudler

Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dougie Hamilton

Ladislav Smid - Dennis Wideman

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Injured: Micheal Ferland (upper body), Josh Jooris (undisclosed), Joe Colborne (undisclosed)

Scratched: Deryk Engelland

Status update: Hutton could start in place of Rinne, who made 28 saves in the win against the Canucks on Tuesday. … Colborne and Jooris "are banged up," Hartley said, and will be game-time decisions.

Who's hot: Ekholm has two goals and five points during a four-game point streak to match his NHL career-high. ... Johansen has nine points in his first nine games since being acquired in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 6. … Colborne has two goals and three points in his past two games.

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