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5 THINGS - FLAMES @ AVALANCHE

The Flames look to extend a season-high winning streak tonight in the Mile High City

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (15-12-4) at AVALANCHE (19-8-2)

7:00 p.m. MT | TV: Sportsnet West | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN

2019-20 Season Series: 0-2-0

 

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Matthew Tkachuk (25)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (14)

Avalanche:

Points - Nathan MacKinnon (45)
Goals - MacKinnon (18)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 17.5% (21st) / PK - 84.1% (9th)

Avalanche:

PP - 19.1% (14th) / PK - 78.9% (20th)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:    

Shot Attempts: 51.80% (8th)
High-Danger Chances: 49.58% (19th)

Avalanche:

Shot Attempts: 48.49% (20th)
High-Danger Chances: 50.65% (13th)

 

Video: All the details ahead of tonight's tilt with the Avs.

 


1. US

The Flames are coming off a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, stretching a season-long winning streak to four.

Milan Lucic had his first multi-point effort as a Flame, which included career goal No. 200 as the homeside roared back from an early 2-0 deficit with four unanswered strikes.

Zac Rinaldo , Sean Monahan and Dillon Dube added the others for Calgary, while Cam Talbot - appearing for the first time since Nov. 17 - stopped 30 of 33 shots in the win.

"I liked - first of all - the composure," said interim head coach Geoff Ward. "When we got down 2-0, there was no panic. There was a lot of talking on the bench and the guys were really upbeat. I thought were responded well, coming out and starting out with a strong, strong second period."

Dube, in particular, had a strong game and was a sparkplug for the Flames offensively throughout the evening. The 21-year-old supplied a goal and an assist, giving him five points (3G, 2A) in his last five outings. Derek Ryan, meanwhile had a pair of helpers for the second straight game, and continues to impress at both ends of the rink.

The Flames are getting contributions from all four lines, and the timing couldn't be better with a couple of tough road dates on tap.

Following tonight's affair with the high-flying Avs, the Flames will head west to the desert and face the Pacific-leading Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday before heading home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

It goes without saying, but this is a pivotal week as the Flames look to get themselves back into the race.

"With how tight the standings are, it's a big win," Lucic said. "When you're getting rewarded, personally, for your effort - but, more importantly, with two points in the standings - it's a good feeling."

David Rittich will get the start in goal.

 

Video: "Focus on ourselves and what we need to do."

 

2. THEM

The Avalanche are rolling right now, winning six in a row and - in the process - handing the powerhouse Boston Bruins their first regulation home-ice loss of the season with a 4-1 pasting on Saturday.

"I thought we were skating, forecheck was rolling early," coach Jared Bednar told Callie Parmele of ColoradoAvalanche.com. "It was a tight-checking game, but it had really good pace to it. I thought both teams were pretty disciplined and then we ended up making a couple plays. …  Lots of sacrifice too, especially at the end on the penalty kill on the five versus six and four versus six, guys getting in front of shots and blocking shots, real good commitment there."

But it isn't all good news in Avs land.

Midway through Saturday's victory, the Avalanche lost rookie sensation Cale Makar to an undisclosed injury after the defenceman absorbed a heavy (albeit clean) hit from Brad Marchand. The severity of the injury remains unclear, but it seems likely Makar will be in the lineup this evening.

The Calgary native currently leads the rookie scoring race with 28 points (8G, 20A) in 29 games.

And the bad news didn't end there.

Starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer also went down with an injury, exiting the game late in the first period, paving the way for backup Pavel Francouz to come on and record the win.

Francouz, 29, has been stellar for the Avs this year, posting a 7-2-0 record, along with a .931 save percentage and a 2.24 goals-against average.

Rounding out the Avs' injury updates: Nazem Kadri has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, while Erik Johnson remains out following a hit from former teammate Alex Kerfoot back on Nov. 23.

The last time these two teams hooked up back on Nov. 19, the Avs were without Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. Both are back in the lineup now, and have made an immediate impact upon their respective returns.

Rantanen has one goal and seven points in his first four games back, while Landeskog has goals in each of the two he's been back for.

 

Video: Thoughts from members of the Colorado Avalanche

 

3. US VS. THEM

This is the third and final meeting between these two teams, with the Flames coming up short in each of the first two.

The Flames kicked off the 2019-20 season right here at the Pepsi Center, dropping a 5-3 decision, with Mikko Rantanen scoring twice - including the game-winning goal - and Philipp Grubauer making 27 saves.

Then, the Avs took a 3-2 decision on Nov. 19 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, with Andre Burakovsky and Nathan MacKinnon combining for four points.

Sean Monahan leads the Flames in head-to-head scoring with one goal and a pair of helpers, while Johnny Gaudreau and Derek Ryan have two points each.

David Rittich got the start in both meetings with the Avs, and has an. 877 save percentage and a 3.57 goals-against average combined in those two appearances.

The Flames are 7-3-0-0 in their last 10 regular-season meetings and hold an all-time record of 78-60-20-8against the Avs, including an impressive 35-34-11-3 mark on the road.

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: Geoff Ward is now tied for the most consecutive wins after becoming the head coach in Flames franchise history. … THAT: In the last six games, the Flames are averaging 3.00 goals per game and have a powerplay operating at 25.0%. … THE OTHER: Sean Monahan is currently riding a five-game point streak (3G, 3A) after picking up his eighth of the season on Saturday. Monahan is now tied with Johnny Gaudreau at 387 points for the fifth-most points by a Flames player 25-or-younger in franchise history. Monahan is up to 24 points on the season with eight goals and 16 assists.   

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Milan Lucic

The big man is coming off his first multi-point effort as a Flame, and has goals in back-to-back games. His chemistry with Dillon Dube has made that pair a threat every time it's on the ice.

 

Avalanche - Joonas Donskoi

The 27-year-old is taking full advantage of the new scenery.

After spending the first four years of his NHL career with the San Jose Sharks and topping out at 37 points (14G, 23) last year, the Finn looks poised to set a new career benchmark with a breakout campaign offensively.

Donskoi enters the night with 25 points (12G, 13A) in the first 29 games - a 71-point pace over a full, 82-game season.

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