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5 THINGS - FLAMES @ STARS

The Flames kick off a two-game road trip in Dallas on Sunday

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (18-14-5) at STARS (20-13-4)

5:00 p.m. MT | TV: Sportsnet | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN

2019-20 Season Series: 1-1-0

 

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau (29)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (15)

Stars:

Points - Tyler Seguin (30)
Goals - Roope Hintz (12)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 18% (19th) / PK - 84.4% (5th)

Stars:

PP - 17.3% (21st) / PK - 84% (7th)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:    

Shot Attempts: 50.8% (12th)

Stars:

Shot Attempts: 49.1% (21st)

 

Video: Alanna Nolan sets up tonight's game against the Stars


1. US

After another strong start, the Flames found themselves on their heels in the second period of Thursday's 4-3 OT setback to the Montreal Canadiens.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the opening stanza, the Flames allowed the Habs to tie things up in the second period - a third straight game in which the team has not been satisfied with their effort in the middle frame.

"I thought we were good for the first 10 minutes (of the second), and then we gave them a few chances and that first goal kind of put us back on our heels a little bit," interim head coach Geoff Ward said. "Once you get caught out and they get fresh bodies over the well, that's when breakdowns happen. But ... we felt we were good. It was just a matter of - they generated a lot of momentum off that first goal and I think mentally we went, 'Uh oh.' We went back on our heels after that first goal and they started coming forward. I thought the powerplay for them was a real big momentum shifter for them and that put us back on our heels even more."

"Probably same stuff that happened the last couple games," Matthew Tkachuk added in his post-game media address. "Couple goals in a couple minute span there. They seemed to have momentum for most of that second period. They had the momentum the first few shifts, then we took it back with a couple good shifts, a couple good opportunities. I know I had one in front and Tobs (Tobias Rieder) had one with a two-on-one with Fro.

"It would have been good if one of those could go in - it makes it a little bit easier for us. Then they made it 2-1, then 2-2, and they had momentum for the rest of that period. … We've got to play better with the lead right now."

Oliver Kylington would give his club the lead in the third period but a goal from Nick Suzuki sent the game into extra time, where Max Domi ended things with his seventh goal of the season.

The loss was Calgary's third straight, with the team going 0-2-1 in that stretch. Offence was hard to find in the two regulation losses during that spell - netting just one in games against Carolina and Pittsburgh - but the chances have been there. The Flames have put 93 shots on net in their last three games and have outshot their opponents in two of those outings.

Rather than get too frustrated with the lack of offensive conversion, the focus, according to Ward, is in on consistent play in their own zone.

"A friend of mine once told me, 'Y'know, offence is like a cat. It comes and goes. Sometimes you lose it for awhile but it comes back. Defence is like your dog. He's always loyal, he's always by your side, he's always backing you up.'

"So we just feel like the more we can reinforce our defensive game, the better for us."

With back-to-back games before the Christmas break, there is a good chance both David Rittich and Cam Talbot see time in net on this two-game trip.

If Rittich gets the nod in Dallas, he's coming off a 39-save performance against Montreal. The 27-year-old has been rock-solid for the Flames this year, going 15-8-5 with a 2.77 GAA and .917 save percentage.

 

Video: "We're going to have to be our best tonight"

 

2. THEM

A trip to the Sunshine State was a bit stormy for the Stars.

Starting off in Tampa on Thursday, they were able to capture two points in overtime after overcoming a two-goal deficit in regulation. Tyler Seguin played the hero in extra time, coming in on a two-on-one and beating Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevsky on the near post to ice the victory for his club. 

Also coming up strong for his club in Tampa was netminder Anton Khudobin, who made 45 saves in the win.

"We'll take it and run," Dallas coach Rick Bowness told the team's website. "That's the worst game we've played for a while, so we'll take it and run. [Khudobin] was great. You know what, we weren't very good and that's clear. But you know what, I'm very proud of the way that the guys fought back in the third period."

They were back in action on Friday in Sunrise, falling 7-4 at the hands of the Panthers.

Their second period ulimately sunk them - behind only 2-1 after the first period, they allowed five straight goals in the middle frame before finding the net late in the period to give them their second goal of the night.

"We got what was coming to us," Bowness told DallasStars.com afterwards. "Listen, this is a league that if you're not ready to compete, they can embarrass you, and we got embarrassed tonight by a very highly-skilled team."

They added a couple of more in the third period, and held Florida off the board in the final 20 minutes, thanks to tallies from Seguin and Jamie Benn.

"They're up 7-1," Bowness said when asked about the third period push. "It was nice, but they stopped playing to the level they were at. We're not going to pat ourselves on the back. We didn't quit, I'll give our guys credit for that, but the opposition had a six-goal cushion and they weren't throwing their A-game at us anymore.

"We did fight back, and I hope that does carry over to Sunday."

 

Video: "We need to ramp up the energy"

 

3. US VS. THEM

Sunday's match-up is the final match-up in a three-game season series vs. the Stars. Calgary has a 1-1-0 record this year against Dallas, with their win coming at American Airlines Center on Oct. 10.

The Stars held a 2-0 lead in the second period but goals from Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin would send the game in extra time. In a shootout, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau scored to secure the 3-2 win.

Rittich was key in the victory, making 34 stops, including denying Alexander Radulov on a penalty shot late in overtime.

"It was a good game for us, and I'm glad we got the two points," Rittich said following the win. "We played the right way from the beginning. We had a couple of mistakes early, but that's part of hockey."

Calgary dropped a 3-1 decision to the Stars at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Nov. 13. Monahan scored the Flames' lone goal while Talbot made 29 saves on 31 shots in the loss.

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: Johnny Gaudreau has hit his stride in December, recording eight points in eight skates this month. The winger is tied with Matthew Tkachuk for the team-lead in scoring with 29 points through 37 games ... THAT: Noah Hanifin is one assist shy of hitting 100 in his career. The blueliner, who was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, has already skated in 356 games at the age of 22 ... THE OTHER: With a game tomorrow in Minnesota, this is the Flames' sixth back-to-back set this season. The club has a 2-3-0 record in the first game of their back-to-back sets this year.

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Elias Lindholm

The Swede collected his team-leading 15th goal of the year in Thursday's 4-3 OT setback to the Habs and ended the night with two points. He has been a big part of the Flames' recent efforts to get more shots on net, putting nine on target in his last three skates.

Stars- Tyler Seguin

Dallas' leading scorer potted two goals for his club in Friday's loss to the Panthers, bringing him to 30 on the year. The sniper heads into Sunday's game on a five-game point streak in which he has four goals and seven points.

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