The Flames have grabbed three of four points in their last two outings, beating the Flyers Saturday in Philly in a 3-2 shootout before falling by the same score in overtime to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Monday night. Their performance against the Pens was one of their best recently, a strong 60-minute effort from tip to tails. The team has been looking to score first in a game for quite some time and did that Monday, Dillon Dubenotching his first of the season at 7:34, the assist going to Derek Ryan. Alex Galchenyuk knotted it at one at 11:48, just as a penalty to captain Mark Giordano expired. Jared McCann put the homeside ahead for the first time at 7:14, but the Flames kept pressing, finally evening it up on a powerplay. After Sean Monahan's first shot missed the net wide during a powerplay, he got the puck back and made good, scoring his sixth of the season. As is the case usually in the NHL, overtime was a track meet with plenty of Grade-A chances, the two best going to Calgary: Mikael Backlund putting one off the post and Johnny Gaudreaujust loosing the handle on the puck at the last moment on a breakaway, thanks to the chewed up ice. With 56 seconds left in extra time, Jake Guenztel beat David Rittich for the game winner, Big Save Dave making 35 saves on the night.
The Sabres are 2-7-1 in their last 10, and have lost four of their last five. They beat the Panthers 5-2 in Sunrise Sunday night before falling by the same score to the Lightning in Tampa on Monday. Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring in the first period for the homeside but Sam Reinhart answered back and it was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes. Jimmy Vesey scored his first of the season 1:48 into the second for Buffalo but it was all Tampa Bay after that, Mikhail Sergachev, on the powerplay, and Yanni Gourde making it 3-2 after two. Cedric Paquette and Ondrej Palat scored short-handed markers in the third to round out the scoring. "We just need to start having a little bit more desperation in our game. It just seems like we're accepting the fact that we're losing games right now, and it's not OK," said Eichel after the tilt. Defenceman Rasmus Dahlin sustained a concussion and left the game in the second after a hit by Erik Cernak.
3. US vs. THEM
The Flames and Sabres are set to battle for the first time this season. They split their two-game series last year: The Flames winning 2-1 in overtime in Buffalo on Oct. 20, and losing 4-3 in OT at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 16. The Flames line of Gaudreau (2G, 1A), Monahan (3A) and Lindholm (3A) led the way for the Flames last season against Buffalo with three points each. Rittich appeared in both games against the Sabres last season going 1-0-1 with a 2.45 GAA and a .904 Sv%. Monahan (6G, 8A - 14pts in 12 GP) and Gaudreau (5G, 6A - 11 pts in 9 GP) are both over a point-per-game in their careers against the Sabres.
4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER
THIS: Monahan has scored 35 goals in the second period of hockey games since 2017-18 which is the most in the NHL by a Western Conference player ... THAT: The Flames have played the second most road games in the NHL this season as they get set to take part in their 17th tonight … THE OTHER: Tkachuk scored his first career NHL goal on Oct.18, 2016 against the Sabres.
5. PLAYERS TO WATCH
Flames: D TJ Brodie
Looked great against the Pens in his first tilt back. Was dangerous all night and moved the quick well.
Sabres: C Jack Eichel
Hard not to go with the young star. He has a habit of scoring big goals.