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Division leaders face off on Hockey Night in Canada

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

FLAMES (44-20-7; 95 PTS) at WINNIPEG JETS (41-25-4; 86 PTS)

5 p.m. | TV: Sportsnet | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN

Season Series: 2-0-0

All-time: 17-11-1-1

Flames Road Record: 21-13-2

Jets Home Record: 23-9-4

Leading Scorers:


Points - Johnny Gaudreau (91)
Goals - Gaudreau (34)


Points - Blake Wheeler (86)
Goals - Mark Scheifele (33)


Video: Alanna Nolan sets up tonight's all-Canadian match-up







The Flames extended their winning streak to three after picking up a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers last night thanks to Matthew Tkachuk , who had a hand in all five goals for the homeside. The 21-year-old scored twice and added three helpers to advance his career-high numbers, giving him 10 points (6G, 4A) in his last three games, and 73 points (32G, 41A) in 71 tilts overall this year. Johnny Gaudreau , Garnet Hathaway and Tkachuk's '3M' mate Michael Frolik also had goals, while David Rittich stopped 24 of 25 in the win. "He makes plays," head coach Bill Peters said of No. 19's big night. "He makes subtle little smart plays, plays off the wall. … He's smart. He knows when to bunt it back, he knows when the guy is overplaying him and he can spin and take him to the net. Just a real smart, instinctive player. But a lot of it is just the way he goes about the game. He's a student of the game and he looks to get better each and every time he goes on the ice, and it seems like it's working for him." … With the win, the Flames took back the top spot in the division (and conference), and how hold a one-point lead on the San Jose Sharks. The Flames' magic number is now only 0.5, and they can officially clinch a playoff spot with one more win, or a loss by the Minnesota Wild in any fashion. … Sean Monahan left the game after the first period with an illness, and did not travel with the team to Winnipeg. "He's just not feeling right - same deal as what happened with (Mike) Smith a while back," Peters said. "We just don't want it to spread amongst the group." … Alan Quine, who was recalled from the Stockton Heat on Mar. 10, will draw into the lineup in Monahan's absence. Quine has appeared in nine games with the Flames this year (none on this current stint, however), recording three goals and one assist. He is currently the Heat's leading scorer with 52 points (19G, 33A) in 41 games. … Mike Smith will get the start in goal.


Video: "First 10 minutes are going to be really important"



The Jets are coming off a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday, snapping a modest, two-game slide that included a heartbreaking 5-4 defeat at the hands of Sharks 48 hours earlier. Mark Scheifele set a new career high with his 33rd goal of the season Thursday - his three-point effort leading the way for Winnipeg's top line, which combined for seven points in the victory - while goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves to help the Jets remain atop the Central Division standings, one point up on the Nashville Predators. "I really didn't care for our second period, but you have to be careful when you're dealing with other good teams that you don't make it sound like it's a matter of doing certain things and you'll never lose a game," Jets coach Paul Maurice told Paul Edmonds of TSN1290. "I didn't like some of our puck support, is the best way to put it. In the second period, we spent a lot of time in our own end and not a lot of time travelling and gaining speed through the neutral zone. But I liked our first and I liked our third." … The Jets have endured their fair share of injuries this year, and have done well to maintain their place atop of the Central, despite the significant number of man games lost on the backend. Most notably, Dustin Byfuglien (upper body) and Josh Morrissey (lower body) remain out, and neither has begun skating, but Maurice said Friday that both are progressing and Byfuglien is hoping to get back on the sheet "soon." Byfuglien has missed 27 of the past 32 games, while Morrissey has missed eight straight. The Jets are 4-4-0 in those games. In the duo's absence, Tyler Myers, Dmitry Kulikov, Ben Chiarot and Jacob Trouba have elevated their minutes, while rookie Sami Niku - the AHL's Most Oustanding Defenceman in 2017-18 - and the recently acquired Nathan Beaulieu have fit nicely into a group doing it by committee. … Hellebuyck will get the start in goal. The 25-year-old started the past three, going 1-2-0 and posting an .890 save percentage in that span.



The Flames are going for a sweep of the season series, having taken the two previous matchups by a combined score of 10-4. The two sides first hooked up on back on Nov. 21 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, when the Flames tallied five first-period goals en route to a 6-3 victory. They followed that up with a 4-1 performance on Dec. 27 in the Manitoba capital, with Johnny Gaudreau recording the first of his two hat tricks this year. Gaudreau leads all skaters in head-to-head scoring with five points (4G, 1A) in two games, and has nine goals and 18 points in 13 all-time tilts against Winnipeg. … "They're a good team," coach Paul Maurice told the Jets website Friday. "They've got pieces of all kinds of the game to win. They've got enough bite in their game. They play hard enough, they have a nice skill level and they play really structured, so I find them to be a...well, straight through their lineup they've got real nice role definition. Every line understands their own identity."


Video: Gaudreau's fourth career hatty powers Flames by Jets



THIS: As part of his three-point effort last night, Matthew Tkachuk tallied the 100th and 101st assists of his young career. His 101 helpers are the most by any player from the 2016 draft class. In doing so, he also eclipsed the 70-point plateau for the first time in his career. The Flames now have four players with 70 or more points this season, jincluding Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau (91), Sean Monahan (76) and Elias Lindholm (76). ... THAT: The Flames are playing their ninth - and second last - back-to-back set of the season tonight. They extended their record in the first game to 8-1-0 after last night's win over the Rangers. The Flames are 4-4-0 in the back half this year. Calgary will face this scenario one more time this year on Mar. 31 at San Jose and Apr. 1 at Los Angeles. ... THE OTHER: Fourteen of the last 16 games between the Flames and Jets have been decided by two goals or more.


Video: "Should be a good game"



Flames - Michael Frolik

The former Jet has six points (1G, 5A) in his last three games, and now has 29 (14G, 15A) in 54 dates this year. On his goal last night, Frolik was the beneficiary of an incredible Matthew Tkachuk pass, but was creating chances all night long thanks to his dogged work ethic. The veteran led all skaters with a ridiculous, 80% (16-4) Corsi and was a perfect 7-0 on high-danger chances. He finished the night with two shots, three takeaways, and was a +3 in 12:14 of ice time.

Jets - Blake Wheeler

Wheeler is one of the NHL's top distributors, but ever since Patrik Laine was put on the top line with he and Mark Scheifele, the Winnipeg captain has taken off as a goal-scorer. Wheeler has points (18) in 10 of his last 11 games, including eight goals. The 32-year-old has now surpassed the 20-goal plateau for the first time since 2013-14, and is only five points off his career high of 91 set last year.

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