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5 THINGS - FLAMES VS. PANTHERS

The Flames look to get back in the win column tonight vs. Florida

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (5-5-1) vs. PANTHERS (4-2-3)

7:00 p.m. MT | TV: Sportsnet West | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN

 

2018-19 Season Series: 1-0-1

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Johnny Gaudreau (9)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (6)

Panthers:

Points - Jonathan Huberdeau (10)
Goals - Mike Hoffman (5)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 16.7% (22nd) / PK - 88.4% (3rd)

Panthers:

PP - 20.0% (14th) / PK - 88.2 (6th)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:    

Shot Attempts: 52.70% (6th)
High-Danger Chances: 46.81% (24th)

Panthers:

Shot Attempts: 53.39% (4th)
High-Danger Chances: 47.98% (19th)

 

Video: Brendan Parker sets up tonight's tilt

 


1. US

The Flames are looking to get back in the win column after dropping a 5-3 decision to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

Elias Lindholm, Austin Czarnik and Tobias Rieder supplied the offence, while Cam Talbot made 25 saves for the homeside, but a couple of tough breaks early in the middle frame set the tone for what would be an uphill climb for much of the night.

"We know we've got another level to get to and we're very aware of that," said Head Coach Bill Peters. "We've got to get to it, we've got to get some desperation in our game, a little more hunger and some one-on-one battles, better at some of the wall work in certain situations and that'll improve our game."

Trailing by one entering the third period, the Flames were out-shot 12-10 the rest of the way, and were unable to mount much of a push at even strength.

"We've had bits and pieces of good games, (Tuesday) included," Derek Ryan said following Wednesday's practice. "I know that's a cliché - totally overused in the sport. But it's true. When we play to our potential this year, we're a tough team to beat. But when you only put together one or two periods at a time, it's not enough."

The Flames were back on the ice Wednesday for a brisk, half-hour-long skate, but Johnny Gaudreau (sickness) was not among the participants.

Gaudreau has been fighting a bug over the past "few days," according to Peters, but is expected to be available for tonight's game.

While Gaudreau's absence left a void in the forward corps, winger Sam Bennett - who's missed the past two games with a lower-body injury - helped to fill it, returning to practice for the first time since leaving Saturday's game in Tinsel Town.

Bennett declared himself ready to play, and assuming Gaudreau is healthy enough to suit up as well, the coaching staff will have to make a decision as to who among the 13 available forwards will sit out tonight.

Following tonight's contest, the Flames will depart on a five-game, 10-day road trip beginning on Saturday with the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic against the Winnipeg Jets at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Sask.

 

Video: "We'll have all hands on deck"

 

2. THEM

The Panthers are coming off a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday and are 3-0-3 in their last half-dozen games.

Jonathan Huberdeau and Denis Malgin each had a goal and an assist, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves for the Panthers, who have gone to overtime in four of their last five.

Noel Acciari and Frank Vatrano also had goals, and Aleksander Barkov had a pair of helpers to give him five in his last four tilts.

"We had a lot of games in overtime lately, so it was good to get a regulation win," Huberdeau told Alain Poupart of NHL.com. "It's good to get some points early. That's what we want. Especially before going on a long road trip, it was good to get two points at home."

Aaron Ekblad (illness) and Vincent Trocheck (upper body) did not play in the victory. Ekblad, who is one game away from 400 in his career, is likely to return tonight. There is currently no update on Trocheck, but the former 30-goal scorer did make the trip to Calgary.

Defenceman Mike Matheson, meanwhile, did not after suffering an injury in the second period of Tuesday's game.

This is the first of a four-game road trip with the Cats, who will also make stops in Edmonton, Vancouver and Colorado over the next week.

"It's an important trip for us in some really tough places," Panthers Head Coach Joel Quenneville told Jameson Olive of FloridaPanthers.com. "We want to make sure that we take care of business here at home. I think that was a real positive coming out of (Tuesday's) game.

"Let's go into this trip knowing each and every night that we're going to look to get some points."

 

Video: Huberdeau, Yandle and Quenneville on Flames

 

3. US VS. THEM

This is the first of two meetings between these two teams, and the only head-to-head matchup to be held at the Scotiabank Saddledome this year.

Last year, the Flames earned three of a possible four points against the Cats, winning 4-3 on Jan. 11 in Calgary, before dropping a 3-2 decision on Valentine's Day in the Sunshine State.

Michael Frolik led the Flames in head-to-head scoring with three points (1G, 2A) in two games, with Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau finishing in a tie for second with two points each.

Mike Hoffman, meanwhile, served as Florida's chief architect, matching Frolik's output with three points (2G, 1A) in two games.

These teams won't hook up again until the new year when the Flames close out a season-long, five-game road trip on Mar. 1 at the BB&T Center.

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: The Flames currently have the NHL's third-best penalty kill at 88.4%. Their 94.1% penalty kill at home is also ranked third, surrendering only a single powerplay goal so far this year. On the road, the PK is a tad less efficient, operating at 84.6%, which has the Flames tied for ninth overall. Calgary has been short-handed 43 times this season, which is the second-most in the NHL. ... THAT: Panthers defenceman Anton Stralman was acquired by the Flames on Jul. 27, 2009, and before he played a single regular-season game, he was traded again - this time to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sept. 28. ... THE OTHER: Michael Frolik was originally drafted by the Panthers in the first round, 10th overall, back in 2006. The 31-year-old veteran of 804 NHL games played his first three seasons with the Cats, recording 117 points (50G, 67A) over 213 games. Frolik was traded by the Panthers on Feb. 9, 2011, to the Chicago Blackhawks where he went on to win a Stanley Cup in 2013.

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Sean Monahan

Monahan is goalless in nine, but as Head Coach Bill Peters noted following Wednesday's practice: "He's due." Monahan has been playing a terrific, two-way game of late, and has had several Grade-A opportunities to numb the recent dry spell. The 25-year-old had a team-leading four shots on goal in Tuesday's loss to the Capitals.

Panthers - Sergei Bobrovsky

The talented puck-stopper is off to a tough start with his new club, posting a 3-2-2 record, along with an .878 save percentage and a 3.75 goals-against average in seven appearances.

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