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5 THINGS - FLAMES VS. KINGS

The Flames look to extend their winning streak to four as homestand wraps up

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (14-12-4) vs. KINGS (11-17-2)

8:00 p.m. MT | TV: CBC/Sportsnet | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN

2019-20 Season Series: 0-1-1

 

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Matthew Tkachuk (25)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (14)

Kings:

Points - Anze Kopitar (27)
Goals - Kopitar (10)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 17.2% (20th) / PK - 85.6% (3rd)

Kings:

PP - 11.0% (30th) / PK - 73.9% (30th)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:    

Shot Attempts: 51.92% (8th)
High-Danger Chances: 49.13% (20th)

Kings:

Shot Attempts: 53.17% (5th)
High-Danger Chances: 53.74% (6th)

 

Video: Brendan Parker sets up tonight's tilt

 


1. US

The Flames are coming off a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday and have now posted three straight victories for the first time this year.

Johnny Gaudreau , Sean Monahan , Tobias Rieder and Milan Lucic all tallied for the homeside, while David Rittich - who made his league-leading 24th start - made 26 saves in the victory.

"The thing with us is that we understand we have to be a four-line team," interim head coach Geoff Ward said of Thursday's evenly spread offence. "Where that's going to pay off for us is down the stretch. Last year, we had some guys near the end (of the season) that were a little tired. This year, we've been able to manage that a bit better."

Case in point: Gaudreau snapping a 10-game goal drought, leading the Flames with five shots and getting all kinds of looks offensively, all in only 13 minutes of ice time.

"All these guys are really good pros," Ward said. "They take pride in how they perform, they love the game, and want to be as good as they can be.

"Unfortunately, in this game, it's not always going to go your way all the time. The simplest thing, when things aren't going your way, is to give yourself to the team."

Gaudreau and his new linemates - Lucic and Mr. Everything Derek Ryan - certainly did that, all having a significant impact on the scoresheet.

Ryan finished with two helpers, while Lucic picked up his long-awaited and oh-so thrilling first goal as a Flame.

"The two points meant more than anything," Lucic said. "I like the way our game's trending and it seems like everyone's more involved and contributing and we're going to need a lot more of that moving forward, because it's a big month for us as far as everything goes."

That line - along with all the others used over the past week at practice - will be deployed again at puck drop this evening.

Cam Talbot will get the start in goal.

 

Video: "I've spent a lot of time in the gym."

 

2. THEM

Michael Amadio scored his fifth goal of the season with 6:28 to play in the third period, but the comeback stalled there, as the Kings dropped a 2-1 decision to the Edmonton Oilers last night at Rogers Place.

Jonathan Quick made 18 saves, while the Kings piled up 36 shots, but first-period powerplay strikes by Leon Draisaitl and Alex Chiasson proved to be the difference as the Kings lost their 10th straight road contest.

"The effort is there," captain Anze Kopitar told NHL.com. "If you look at our 5-on-5 game tonight, we were probably the better team. We created more chances, but the game consists of special teams, too. Special teams now are a huge part of the games and we lost them tonight. We knew they are a very good team on the powerplay and they made us pay for the mistakes we made."

The Kings have lost three straight overall, and have only four goals combined in those games.

As Quick got the call last night up in the Alberta capital, expect 27-year-old Jack Campbell to get the start in goal tonight. Campbell is 4-5-1, along with an .894 save percentage and a 2.88 goals-against average in 10 appearances this year.

On the injury front, the Kings are without Alec Martinez after the D man went down during a tilt with the Sharks on Nov. 25.

Martinez, who took a skate to the arm on a diving defensive play and suffered a gnarly gash as a result, recently underwent surgery to repair a radial artery and two superficial radial nerves on his right wrist.

He's officially week to week.

Derek Forbort (back), meanwhile, is currently on a conditioning assignment with the Kings' AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign. He has not played a game with the big club this year.

 

3. US VS. THEM

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

The Flames, who are still looking for their first win against the Kings, picked up a single point in a 4-3 overtime loss back on Oct. 10 at the 'Dome, before losing 4-1 only nine days later in Tinsel Town. That night, Mikael Backlund scored on a penalty shot with only 2:10 to play, spoiling the shutout bid for the Jonathan Quick.

Matthew Tkachuk leads the Flames with two goals and one assist in the season series; Ilya Kovalchuk, meanwhile, paces the Kings with a pair of strikes and two helpers, but his future with the club is in limbo.

"The situation with Kovy is a tough one for everybody," coach Todd McLellan told Jon Rosen, the LA Kings Insider. "I can tell you that he's been outstanding. Kovy's situation has nothing to do with him as a person or his work ethic or anything like that. He's outstanding. He works as hard as anybody right now, and it's a tough situation, but we'll get through it."

The Flames are 5-3-2-0 in their last 10 meetings and hold an all-time record of 124-93-21-7 against the Kings, including an impressive 72-36-12-4 mark on home ice.

 

Video: Coach Geoff Ward speaks on tonight's matchup

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: Three Flames enter the night on the cusp of a major career milestone. Milan Lucic has 199 career goals after getting his first as a Flame on Thursday; Mikael Backlund is one assist from 200 career helpers; Matthew Tkachuk is one point away from 200 career points. ... THAT: Tkachuk is currently riding a four-game point streak dating back to Nov. 25. He currently leads the Flames in points this season with 11 goals 25 points in 30 games. The 21-year-old can become the 33rd player in franchise history to collect 200 points as a member of the Flames. ... THE OTHER: Mark Giordano is one assist away from passing Kent Nilsson's 333 for the seventh-most by one player in franchise history.

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Mikael Backlund

Backlund is coming off a strong effort, scoring an assist and a season-high half-dozen takeaways, while logging nearly 17 minutes of ice time in Thursday's win over the Sabres. Most notably, the veteran did so playing wing - a position he's mostly unfamiliar with at the NHL level.

"It was fun," Backlund said. "It was a good challenge. ... I was excited to try it and I thought it went well. It's easy to play with good players, like (Sean Monahan) and (Dillon Dube ). I felt like I could be more aggressive on the forecheck, chasing guys, and use my ability to skate more. You always have to work hard defensively, but you can focus a little more on the offence [in that position], I find."

Kings - Tyler Toffoli

The 27-year-old has gone eight straight without a goal, and has nary a shot in each of his last two outings.

But Toffoli - a two-time 20-goal scorer, and a one-time 30-goal man - remains one of the Kings' most dangerous offensive threats.

The Scarborough, Ont., product has two goals and three points against the Flames this year. 

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