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5 THINGS - FLAMES @ PENGUINS

Flames look to finish road trip on a winning note

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (34-16-7; 75 PTS) at PENGUINS (30-20-7; 67 PTS)

11:00 a.m. | TV: Sportsnet West | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN

Season Series: 0-1-0    

All-time: 43-44-18-2

Flames Road Record: 17-11-2

Penguins Home Record: 16-10-2

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Johnny Gaudreau (78)
Goals - Gaudreau, Sean Monahan (29)

Penguins:

Points - Sidney Crosby (66)
Goals - Jake Guentzel (27)

Video: Brendan Parker sets up today's game

 

US

The Flames are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday, and enter the finale of a season-long four-game road trip with an 0-1-2 record so far. Mark Jankowski and Elias Lindholm scored third-period goals as the Flames rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to force overtime, but surrendered the extra point in the skills contest for the fourth time this year. Mike Smith had an excellent night between the pipes, finishing with 30 saves, including five in overtime to help the Flames pull back into a tie with the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific. "I felt good," he said. "I felt like I was back (to having) that swagger and the compete level that I needed to be at. It hasn't been there for stints this year, but I felt like tonight, it was time to wake up, smell the coffee and get after it." Smith will get the start in back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 2 and 3 (at Detroit, at Boston), looking to improve on his 14-11-2 record. … Former Penguin James Neal suffered an upper-body injury on Thursday and will not be in the lineup. As a result, the Flames have recalled Curtis Lazar from the Stockton Heat. The forward has 36 points (16G, 20A) in 46 games on the farm this year, earning all kinds of praise from Stockton coach Cail MacLean: "How (Lazar) has approached this as an opportunity, and how he's continued to work and push to get everything out of the opportunity while he's here, it speaks to his character and attitude," MacLean said. "It's second to none." ... Following today's game, the Flames will return to Calgary and kick off a three-game homestand with a Family Day matinee against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.

 

Video: CGY@FLA: Smith stones Barkov in overtime

 

THEM

The Penguins earned a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, and are now three points up on the Carolina Hurricanes for the final wild-card spot in the East. Bryan Rust, Teddy Blueger and Jared McCann all scored, but it was the Pens' two-time Cup champion netminder that stole the show, stopping 38 shots in the victory. The Penguins have now won two straight games after going winless (0-3-1) in their previous four. ... Murray, 24, posted a career high 50 saves in Monday's triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers, and after recording back-to-back victories for the first time in a month, is now 17-9-1 on the year. ... Star forward Evgeni Malkin will be back in the lineup after serving a one-game suspension due to a stick-swinging incident With Flyers forward Michael Raffl on Monday. "One game is OK," Malkin told Sam Kassan of PittsburghPenguins.com. "I was playing (dangerously). My stick went high. My point (to the league) was that I didn't touch his face; I touched his shoulder. I think he dove. ... We know Philly. They start (crap) when they're losing. I understand it's a tough game, but I think he's playing dirty." Malkin returned that night after missing five games (Feb. 1-9) with an upper-body injury. ... On Friday, the Penguins activated defenceman Justin Schultz from injured reserve. The offensive rearguard has missed the past 53 games after fracturing his left leg back on Oct. 13 in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. The 28-year-old will be a game-time decision. … Fellow defenceman Olli Maatta is out indefinitely after suffering an upper-body injury on Monday against the Flyers.

 

US VS. THEM

This is the second and final meeting between these two teams. The Penguins took the first encounter 9-1 back on Oct. 25. Sidney Crosby and Derick Brassard (now with the Panthers) led the way with three points each, while six others had multi-point outings. James Neal had Calgary's lone goal, while Dillon Dube and Sean Monahan had the assists. … Prior to that lopsided affair, the Flames earned points in six straight (5-0-1) against the Pens.

 

THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: The Flames are 29-11-7 since the Oct. 25 loss to Pittsburgh and the 65 points they've gained in that span are the third-most in the NHL behind the Lightning and New York Islanders … THAT: The Penguins have one of the best powerplays in the NHL, ranking sixth with a 23.4% conversion rate. They're especially potent on the road, where they've scored on 31.6% of their chances (2nd), but see a significant drop-off in their home rink. At PPG Paints Arena, the Penguins have scored only 12 goals on 78 opportunities, and are ranked 23rd with a 15.4% efficiency rate. … THE OTHER: With his goal on Thursday, Elias Lindholm pulled into a tie with Sean Monahan with 65 points on the year. The 24-year-old is now on a three-game point streak after having a season-high 10-game run snapped on Feb. 7. Lindholm has 31 points (9G, 22A) in his last 24 games dating back to Dec. 16, and has 15 points (4G, 11A) in 21 career games against the Penguins.

 

Video: CGY@FLA: Lindholm tips in Andersson's shot, ties game

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Mark Jankowski

With his goal on Thursday, Jankowski now has 10 on the year, two in his last four games, and has 28 games left to make a push for his career high of 17, set last year. The 24-year-old played a season-high 17:53 against the Panthers, including 1:51 on the powerplay and 1:20 on the PK. Among players who played north of 10 minutes 5-on-5, he was first with a 70% Corsi (14-6), and was 2-0 on scoring chances from high-danger locations.

Penguins - Teddy Blueger

The Latvian rookie scored in Wednesday's win over the Oilers and now has three goals and four points in seven games with the Penguins, after the spending the first three years of his pro career with the Pens' AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton. Blueger, a second-round pick in the 2012 Draft and a graduate of Minnesota State Mankato, scored 115 points (49G, 66A) in 179 regular-season games with the Baby Penguins dating back to 2015.

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