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5 THINGS - FLAMES VS. BRUINS

Flames host league-leading Bruins in finale of three-game homestand

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (31-24-6) vs. BRUINS (38-11-12)

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

2018-19 Season Series: 1-1-0

 

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau (50)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (27)

Bruins:

Points - David Pastrnak (84)
Goals - Pastrnak (43)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 20.3% (15th) / PK - 82.1% (10th)

Bruins:

PP - 25.0% (2nd) / PK - 84.1% (3rd)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:

Shot Attempts: 50.22% (13th)
High-Danger Chances: 50.90% (12th)

Bruins:

Shot Attempts: 50.99% (11th)
High-Danger Chances: 52.33% (7th)

 

Video: Brendan Parker sets up tonight's game


1. US

The Flames are looking to keep the good times going after picking up a 6-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.

Andrew Mangiapane led the way with his first-career hat-trick, capping a four-point night, while Cam Talbot made 26 stops in the victory.

Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan also had goals as the homeside rallied from a 3-1 deficit with five unanswered goals in the third period.

"I think it's important to not only win, but to win the way we did, being down and not giving up," Tkachuk said. "I thought (Mangiapane's) goal to make it 3-2 was huge, and then (Bennett's) to make it 3-3 was enormous. Then, we had all the momentum in the world after that."

This is a pivotal game for the Flames, who will see the Bruins twice in the next five days as part of a season-long, five-game road trip that begins on Sunday in Detroit.

"They put the same game on the ice every night," interim head coach Geoff Ward - a former Bruins assistant from 2007 to 2014 - said following Thursday's practice. "They're really structured, they're very detailed, they have good skill at every position in the lineup. They're a really good team when they're playing their game, and most nights they are.

"When you look at the leadership core of the Bruins and what that leadership core means, and how they prepare their team to play, it's second to none in the league. That makes them ready every night and that makes them hard to play against. … The leadership demands it, the coaching staff demands it, and the young players make sure that they're ready to go."

In other words - a big, big test.

The Flames begin this difficult, 10-day stretch in the second wild-card spot, one point back of the Winnipeg Jets with one game in hand.

While the road ahead isn't easy, the Flames are 17-13-2 on foreign rinks this year, including a 7-3-0 mark since Jan. 1. Their .700 winning percentage is fourth-best, overall, in that span.

But first, they need to make the Scotiabank Saddledome an unwelcome place for their opponents.

The win Monday snapped a five-game slide on Saddledome ice, and the team is hoping to build on that.

"We've been talking about it since the (all-star) break," Ward said. "Let's not listen to what's going on out there. Let's make sure that we're paying attention to what's happening in here. We've set standards for ourselves, and if we can live up to that on a daily basis, we'll be in good shape.

The Flames are currently without heart-and-soul captain Mark Giordano, and rugged, stay-at-home D man Travis Hamonic.

Giordano (hamstring) is back skating (solo, mind you) and could join the team on the upcoming getaway. General manager Brad Treliving says there's a possibility the reigning Norris winner will play at some point over the next week, but there are no guarantees.

"He's progressing," Treliving said. "It's always good to see a guy get on the ice, so that was a real positive step over the last two days. … We haven't circled a day on the calendar yet. We're sort of taking it day-by-day and seeing where he's progressing.

"I'm not trying to be cute with timelines. We just don't know. He's certainly moving in the right direction. The fact he's been on the ice the last two days and pushing real hard is a real good sign."

Hamonic, meanwhile, is still week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

 

Tweet from @ryandittrick: Great conversation with Zac Rinaldo today on our latest Firestarter episode. He touched on life as a father, his first year as a Flame, and how important it is for him to give back, especially in his hometown of Hamilton.Full interview > https://t.co/93sS9tmf6e pic.twitter.com/KwktiKDHoC

 

2. THEM

The Bruins are coming off a 2-1 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, and have now won four straight and 10 of their last 11 (10-1-0).

David Pastrnak scored the OT winner 1:14 into the extra period, sliding the puck backhand through the wickets of Mike Smith after getting a breakaway pass from David Krejci.

The goal was Pastrnak's 43rd of the campaign, tying Auston Matthews for the league lead in that department.

Tuukka Rask had another fine outing, stopping 28 of the 29 shots he faced to improve to 23-5-6 on the year, and build on his league-leading .932 save percentage and 2.04 goals-against average.

Now 38-11-12, the Bruins top the NHL standings with 88 points.

In a game featuring the NHL's top two powerplays, neither side could generate much offensively in the penalty-filled contest. Combined, the teams finished 1-for-13, with the Bruins coming up empty on seven tries with the man-advantage.

"I think both penalty kills were clearly better than the powerplays tonight," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told Michael Tolvo of BostonBruins.com. "I thought the puck was bouncing a bit - that had something to do with it. But, at the end of the day, you're going to have those nights. Both teams have good special teams on both sides of it, good goaltending. You're glad to see you win a game you don't need your powerplay to score."

This is the third of a four-game road trip for the B's, who will head west to face the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday before returning home for the rematch against Calgary.

 

Video: Chara, Pastrnak and Krejci on facing the Flames

 

3. US VS. THEM

These two teams have yet to meet this year, but the Flames will be a getting healthy dose of their Eastern counterparts, with two of the next three coming against the Bruins.

The second half of this rare 'home-and-home' will play out on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at TD Garden in Boston.

Last year, the Flames and Bruins halved the season series, with each team winning at home. The Flames took a 5-2 decision on Oct. 17, 2018, with Juuso Valimaki scoring the game-winner. The Bruins returned the favour with a 6-4 victory Jan. 3, 2019 in Boston.

Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Backlund and Noah Hanifin led the Flames in head-to-head scoring with three points each over the two-game stretch, while Patrice Bergeron paced the B's with a goal and three helpers.

The Flames are 5-4-1 in their last 10 regular-season meetings and hold an all-time record of 38-60-10-1 against the Bruins, including a 23-25-4-1 mark at home.

 

Video: Frolik scores two as Flames down Bruins, 5-2

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: Johnny Gaudreau has had great success against the Bruins over the course of his career. The 26-year-old has 11 points (7G, 4A) in his last nine games against them. Gaudreau also scored his 100th career goal when Boston visited Calgary back on Oct. 17, 2018. After recording his team-leading 14th multi-point night in Monday's triumph, Gaudreau now has 50 points on the year - tied with Matthew Tkachuk for the team lead in that department. ... THAT: Andrew Mangiapane's hat-trick Monday came on only three shots. That is only the 21st time in Calgary Flames history that a player has scored a hat-trick in that fashion. Tkachuk also did it on Mar. 10, 2019. ... THE OTHER: Sean Monahan is now tied with Joe Mullen for eighth in Calgary Flames history in goals with 190. He now trails Hakan Loob by only three tallies for the seventh-most, all-time.  

 

Coming to the game tonight? You should check out our Dancin' Usher!

 

Video: Dancin' Usher Duncan loves Dancin' Homer

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Milan Lucic

There's no greater motivation than suiting up against your old 'mates.

Lucic played eight seasons with the Bruins, recording 342 points (139G, 203A) in 566 regular-season games, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.

In eight career games against the Bruins, Lucic has five points (2G, 3A), 35 hits, and averages nearly 17 minutes of ice time.

 

Video: "It's a big game for us"

 

Bruins - Patrice Bergeron

Like a fine wine, the 34-year-old, four-time Selke winner seems to be getting better with age. He's currently on a four-game goal streak, and has points (8) in six straight dating back to Feb. 8. Overall, Bergeron has 51 points (27G, 24A) in 52 games and - as one of the best two-way centers to ever the game - he's a big reason why David Pastrnak is having the season he is.

Bergeron needs only six goals in the final 21 games to achieve a new career benchmark.

His previous best, 32, was accomplished twice - in 2015-16, and 2018-19.

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