FLAMES (28-13-4) vs. PANTHERS (17-17-8)
7:00 p.m. | TV: Sportsnet West | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN
Season Series: 0-0-0
Flames Home Record: 13-4-4
Panthers Road Record: 9-11-3
Points - Johnny Gaudreau (66)
Goals - Gaudreau (26)
Points - Jonathan Huberdeau (46)
Goals - Mike Hoffman (20)
The Flames are coming off a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, and have now secured a victory in six of their last eight games. The Avs outshot the Flames 35-16, but David Rittich stood tall, stopping 32 shots to remain unbeaten at home this year. The sophomore puck-stopper is now 16-4-3 overall, with a 2.42 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage, putting him in the top five in both categories among goalies with at least 25 games played. … Mikael Backlund , Mark Jankowski , Elias Lindholm , Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk supplied the offence, but it was Mark Giordano who led the way, recording three helpers to put him back on a point-per-game pace through 43 contests. Meanwhile, Johnny Gaudreau extended his point streak to six games (7G, 8A) with two assists in the victory. In doing so, the Flames (28-13-4) accrued their 60th point of the season for the second-fastest time in franchise history. They did it in 41 games during the 1988-89 season - coincidentally, the year the Flames won the Stanley Cup … This is the second of a five-game homestand for the Flames, who will welcome the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings over the next week. "We've gotten away from it," said head coach Bill Peters. "I think (Thursday's practice) is going to go a long way. I think the fact that we have three practices here in the next five days is really going help. We weren't perfect on the road, by any stretch of the imagination. I thought we struggled with the puck a little (Wednesday) night. There are things we've gotten away from." … Tkachuk (maintenance) did not participate in Thursday's practice, but should be good to go tonight.
The Panthers are on the second of a back-to-back set after falling in a shootout, 4-3, to the Edmonton Oilers last night in the Alberta capital. Goals by Frank Vatrano, Denis Malgin and Henrik Borgstrom helped the Cats build a 3-2 lead, but the Oilers tied it with only eight seconds to play before winning it in the skills competition. The Panthers have now lost four straight, and are 10 points back of a wild-card playoff spot. "It was unfortunate the way it ended, eight seconds to go to get two points," head coach Bob Boughner told NHL.com. "I thought we played a heckuva road game. I think we gave up 18 shots in regulation. We produced some chances, we scored a big goal at the end, we did a lot of good things." … On Tuesday, the Panthers lost 5-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was then the seventh straight game where they surrendered the first goal - four of those within the first minute of the game, and all seven in the first 5:15. Boughner sat captain and leading point-getter Jonathan Huberdeau, leading goal-scorer Mike Hoffman, and all-star defenceman Keith Yandle for the entirety of the third period, later saying they were "out to lunch." The trio responded with a much better effort on Thursday… The Panthers are currently without forwards Derek MacKenzie, Nick Bjugstad and Vincent Trocheck, who have combined to miss 80 games this year to due to injury. Trocheck, in particular, has been a significant loss for the Cats, having put up a team-best 31 goals for 75 points last year. He's missed 24 straight games dating back to Nov. 21. … Goaltender James Reimer got the call on Thursday, meaning Roberto Luongo could get the start tonight. The 39-year-old is only six wins away from passing Ed Belfour for sole possession of third all-time.
US VS. THEM
This is the first of two meetings between the Flames and Panthers this season. They will close out the season on Mar. 4 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. Last year, the Flames went 1-1 against the Cats, winning 4-2 Jan. 12 in Florida, before dropping a 6-3 decision on Feb. 17 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Sean Monahan led the Flames in head-to-head scoring, producing four points (1G, 3A) in two games.
THIS, THAT & THE OTHER
THIS: With his goal on Wednesday, Matthew Tkachuk (20-31-51) joined Johnny Gaudreau (26-40-66), Sean Monahan (23-31-54) and Elias Lindholm (21-30-51) as the Flames' fourth 20-goal scorer this season. It's only the second time in franchise history the team has had four players reach the 20-goal mark through 45 games. Mike Bullard (27), Hakan Loob (25), Joe Nieuwendyk (32) and Joe Mullen (20) were the others to do it back in 1987-88. The Flames are the only team in 2018-19 to boast four 20-goal scorers. The last time any team had four players reach 20 goals by the 45-game mark of a season was the 2006-07 Sabres: Thomas Vanek (23), Chris Drury (23), Maxim Afinogenov (20) and Jason Pominville (20). ... THAT: Also on Wednesday, Gaudreau (2A) recorded his 13th multi-point outing in his last 19 appearances. The only other Flames player to record 13 multi-point outings in a 19-game span was Theo Fleury during the 1990-91 campaign. ... THE OTHER: Michael Frolik was drafted by the Panthers in the first round (10th overall) in the 2006 NHL Draft and played the better part of three seasons with them to start his NHL career (2008-09 - 2010-11). Frolik totalled 213 games for the Cats, netting 50 goals and 117 points. Frolik was traded from the Panthers to the Blackhawks on Feb. 9, 2011.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Flames - Mark Giordano
Giordano not only had three helpers in the Flames' 5-3 victory Wednesday. In the process, he moved to a +31 rating to lead all NHL skaters. There's a ways to go for 'Gio,' but only three other players in franchise history have ended the season as the NHL leader in that category: Theo Fleury in 1990-91 (+48) Joe Mullen in 1988-89 (+51) Brad McCrimmon in 1987-88 (+48).
Panthers - Aleksander Barkov
Barkov has 15 points (6G, 9A) in his last 12 games, and is a constant threat every time he steps onto the ice. The 23-year-old has drawn a league-leading 27 minor penalties, while taking only one two-minute all season (Dec. 22 at Detroit). He currently owns a 53.1 winning percentage on faceoffs (including 61.4% of his draws on the powerplay). … Look out if tonight's game gets to a shootout. Barkov ranks third in NHL history among players with at least 35 attempts, going 21-for-41, for a gaudy shooting percentage of 51.2.