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5 THINGS - FLAMES VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS

The Flames look to extend their winning streak to four in a pivotal game against the Knights

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (36-26-7) vs. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (37-24-8)

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

2019-20 Season Series: 0-2-0

 

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Matthew Tkachuk (60)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (29)

Golden Knights:

Points - Max Pacioretty (65)
Goals - Pacioretty (31)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 20.8% (13th) / PK - 82.6% (6th)

Golden Knights

PP - 21.3% (9th) / PK - 77.0% (26th)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:

Shot Attempts: 50.52% (15th)
High-Danger Chances: 51.06% (10th)

Golden Knights:

Shot Attempts: 54.54% (1st)
High-Danger Chances: 55.48% (2nd)

 

Video: Alanna Nolan sets up tonight's divisional matchup

 


1. US

'Dome, sweet 'Dome, indeed.

The Flames are coming off a massive 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, and are now on a 5-1-1 roll dating back to Feb. 23.

Johnny Gaudreau , TJ Brodie and Mikael Backlund supplied the offence, while Cam Talbot - who made his 300th career start and earned his 150th career win - stopped 32 of 34 shots.

Talbot has now made three consecutive starts for the Flames and has a .957 save percentage in that span - the second-most among any goalie with at least three appearances.

He is now 12-10-1 on the year, with a .919 save percentage and a 2.63 goals-against average.

"We knew that it could be either a three-point lead or a five-point lead over these guys, and obviously we wanted the second part of that," Talbot said. "It felt like a playoff atmosphere out there, you could tell that every little play mattered and guys were going to the wall tonight, so those are the kind of efforts we're going to need down the stretch."

Tonight, even more so.

As one divisional foe leaves town, a second trots in, hungry for a victory.

Considering how tight the Pacific standings are, the importance of these pivotal, four-point tilts tend to bring out the best in both sides. We saw that the other night, with the Flames and 'Yotes treating the fans to a thriller that had the high-flying pace of a playoff game.

"With the way the race is, you need to be at your best at this time of year," said interim head coach Geoff Ward. "It demands, not only that you're pushing yourself and your teammates to be as good as you possibly can, but you need to be ready. We talk about being battle-tested an awful lot and the evolution of how that happens, so for us, we welcome all this adversity and these hard games and everything else, because it's going to prepare us way better for playoff hockey than probably the situation that we were in last year."

The Flames enter the game three points back of the Knights for second place in the Pacific, and three points clear of the final playoff berth.

"You come to the rink at this time of year and they all feel huge," said captain Mark Giordano . "It's funny, because you go into the Florida game and we were looking at that one thinking, 'We've got to really get this one to make sure we keep a spot,' and now, you go into
(tonight), and you're thinking it's a huge game to try and (win) the division.

"I'm a big believer that you have to be playing well going into the playoffs. ... People might not understand this from the outside, but we're honestly in a better position - I believe - this year, because in order to get in, we've got to be playing at the top of our game."

 

Video: "Our game is in a better place than where it was."

 

2. THEM

Following a 4-0 setback to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, the Golden Knights have now lost two of their last three games after winning their previous eight - one short of a franchise record.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves in a losing cause for the Knights, who will finish up a three-game road trip on Monday.

"You've got one team that started like they're fighting for their playoff life, and we didn't," Vegas coach Peter DeBoer told Darrin Bauming of NHL.com. "The game was over in the first period. ... The first period was unacceptable. That's what happens when you're playing desperate teams with great goaltending. When you get in a hole like that, it's hard to come back."

Fleury is having a down year, recording only a .905 save percentage in 48 appearances this year - his lowest fraction in 10 years.

Because of this, the Knights loaded up at the trade deadline - first, acquiring Stanley Cup-winning goal-scorer Alex Martinez from the LA Kings, and goaltender Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Lehner, who had a .918 save percentage with the Hawks this year, is a perfect 2-0 with the Knights, boasting a world-beating .967 save percentage in the process.

Tonight's goaltender has not yet been confirmed.

Despite their struggles in Winnipeg - and, prior to that, a home tilt with the Kings - the Knights are a confident group with the weapons they have and the position they've put themselves in.

"We've got a smart group, "DeBoer said on Saturday at the 'Dome. "I think we know what's at stake. We knew we weren't going to win out going to the end of the season, but there are going to be some tough games and everybody's desperate.

"(The back-to-back) is important, but if we don't win both games, we're not out of a playoff spot. We're not winning or losing a playoff spot this weekend. For me, it's how we play. If we're putting together 60-minute efforts... If we hit a hot goalie, miss some opportunities and don't get two points, I know, long-term, we're going to be in a good place. We've Been consistently playing some pretty good hockey, so we've got to get back to that."

On the injury front, the Golden Knights are without star forward Mark Stone, who is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. He is hoping to return before the end of the regular season.

 

Video: Roy, McNabb and coach DeBoer on facing the Flames

 

3. US VS. THEM

This is the third of four meetings between these two teams, and the first to be played at the Scotiabank Saddledome this year.

The Flames visited Sin City twice in the first month-and-a-half of the season, losing both by a considerable margin - 6-2 on Oct. 12, and 6-0 on Nov. 17.

William Karlsson, Max Pacioretty and Nate Schmidt have four points each against the Flames this year, while Marc-Andre Fleury has been nothing short of exceptional - winning both, and steering aside all but two of the 69 shots he's faced.

Certainly, T-Mobile Arena has not been kind to the visitors, who are winless in Vegas in six tries.

But, here, at the 'Dome? A different story.

The Flames have won three of the four all-time meetings in Calgary, and the locals will look to make hay in the final two encounters of the season.

The teams will close out the season series in the penultimate game of the regular campaign, on Apr. 2 at 7 p.m.

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

Tonight, as part of the NHL's Gender Equality Month, we're proud to celebrate International Women's Day at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and coast-to-coast on Rogers Hometown Hockey. The game will feature an all-female broadcast crew with play-by-play announcer Leah Hextall, colour analyst Cassie Campbell-Pascall, and reporter/host Christine Simpson.

Behind the scenes, the broadcast will also be produced by a female production team live from Calgary, Toronto and Salmon Arm, B.C., which will include Hometown Hockey's executive producer Alison Redmond, game producer Maria Skinner and director Dawn Landis.

Members of post-secondary women's hockey teams in southern Alberta will be on the ice during the national anthems. The captains from the women's teams at University of Calgary, SAIT, Mount Royal University, Olds College, University of Lethbridge and Red Deer College, will represent their teams on the carpet prior to puck drop.

In-house and online, Flames TV's own Alanna Nolan will host the Budweiser Pre-Game Show, as well as both intermission segments, before bringing highlights, interviews and analysis on the Alberta Ram Dealers Post-Game Show, which will air immediately after the game and be available LIVE on CalgaryFlames.com, the Flames mobile app, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The voice behind the @NHLFlames Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, Torie Peterson, will be our special-guest colour commentator, offering her perspective on the game and the day's festivities as well.

"I think it's great," said Flames captain Mark Giordano, who has a young daughter - Reese. "It's going to get to a point where it's not that big of a deal, which is a good thing for society. Me, (Matthew Tkachuk) and (David Rittich ) had a chance at the All-Star Game, we had a chance to meet some of the women who were playing in the three-on-three game and had a great chat with them. It was a really good experience. I think it's important for the men's game and the women's game to support each other. We're moving in a great direction. … It's a big day, for sure."

Thank you to all the incredible women that make covering this great game - and working with the first-class Flames organization - so unbelievably special.

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - TJ Brodie

Brodie has now scored in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. He now has four goals on the season, with 19 points and a team-leading +9 rating in 63 games this year.

In addition to his goal, Brodie had an outstanding defensive effort in more than 20 minutes of work on Friday.

Golden Knights - Max Pacioretty

With 31 goals and counting, Pacioretty has now scored 30-plus goals in six of his 12 NHL seasons, including five of his last seven campaigns.

He's already smashed last year's point total, with 65 (31G, 34A) in 69 games - 25 more than last year when he debuted for the Knights.

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