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5 THINGS - FLAMES VS. RANGERS

The Flames look to finish up the homestand on a high note

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (20-17-5) vs. RANGERS (19-16-4)

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

2019-20 Season Series: 0-0-0

 

Video: Brendan Parker on the visiting Rangers

 

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Matthew Tkachuk (36)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (16)

Rangers:

Points - Artemi Panarin (55)
Goals - Panarin (22)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 18.7% (T18th) / PK - 83.8% (4th)

Rangers:

PP - 18.7% (T18th) / PK - 77.3% (24th)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:    

Shot Attempts: 50.49% (11th)
High-Danger Chances: 49.77% (17th)

Rangers:

Shot Attempts: 44.44% (31st)
High-Danger Chances: 46.49% (27th)


1. US

The Flames - having dropped a 5-3 score to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday - are looking to get back on track in the finale of a three-game homestand.

For the second straight game the other night, the Flames allowed the first three goals and were playing catch-up for the majority of the contest. A late surge, beginning with a Sam Bennett strike with 5.2 seconds left in the middle frame, saw the homeside press and make it a one-goal game late, but it wasn't to be.

Michael Frolik and Sean Monahan scored, and the Flames came oh-so close to tying it as part of a one-sided third period, but Robin Lehner stole the show, stopping 16 of the 18 shots he saw in the final frame, including a ridiculous, goal-line stop on Matthew Tkachuk in the dying seconds.

Patrick Kane capped a four-point night with an empty-netter at 19:59.

David Rittich responded well after a tough start, stopping 28 of the 32 he faced.

The comeback showed plenty of character, but the Flames aren't keen on moral victories at this point in the season.

"I felt we were really, really passive early, as opposed to getting after them," said interim head coach Geoff Ward. "As a result, we ended up paying the price.

"I'm as frustrated as everybody else is, probably. In saying that, we can't change the result. What we've got do is make sure we get prepared to have a better start against the Rangers. That's all we can control right now. So, at the end of the day, we didn't start on time. Recently, we've had real good starts and the last two hockey games, not good starts. … It's tough when you get down by that many goals. thought the guys put a good push on to get back in the hockey game, but we came up short."

The Flames are 2-5-1 in their last eight games, and 0-4-1 in their last five at home.

The players are eager to change that.

"You can't let it linger, because we're playing every other night until all-star break here," said Tkachuk - who had two assists in the setback. "We've got to find a way to move on and just get a win here.

"We haven't had the homestand we wanted - at all - but we have one more here to give ourselves a little jumpstart going into a two-game road trip."

Following tonight's game, the Flames will face the Minnesota Wild in the State of Hockey on Sunday, before finishing up that quick, two-game jaunt with a rematch against the Blackhawks on Tuesday at the Madhouse.  

 

Video: "We have to make sure we're ready"

 

2. THEM

No NHL team had ever come back from a six-goal deficit, but the Rangers… came close.

Down 6-0 to the Edmonton Oilers with a minute-and-a-half to play in the second period Tuesday, this one had 'laugher' written all over it.

But a Chris Kreider goal at that point turned the tide and set the Blueshirts up for a wild third period that saw them score another four times and put a scare into the home team.

They just couldn't conjure up the next one - the clock becoming the enemy, despite peppering Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen with 12 shots in the final frame.

Oilers farmhand Kailer Yamamoto scored into the empty net with 1:07 left to secure a 7-5 final.

Artemi Panarin had a goal and three helpers for the Rangers, who entered the night having won two straight and three of their last four. Alexandar Georgiev was victimized for all six of Edmonton's goals, and was pulled in the second after facing only 24 shots. Henrik Lundqvist tagged in and stopped six in relief.

"I think we showed a lot of [the] characteristics you need to have success," Rangers coach David Quinn told Derek van Diest of NHL.com. "You just can't have the start that we had. That's obvious. We just weren't ready to play.

"But to have the wherewithal to turn it on the way we did - even in the second period, I thought we did a lot of good things… It kind of unraveled a little bit, but we got that goal at the end of the second and kept playing."

Kreider, Ryan Strome, Marc Staal, Panarin, and Mika Zibanejad were the goal-scorers.

The loss keeps the Rangers - who are 9-8-2 away from Madison Square Garden - seven points back of a wild-card playoff spot.

With four of the Metro Division's eight teams playing at a 100-plus-point pace, that will be the target for the Blueshirts moving into the second half of the campaign.

 

3. US VS. THEM

This is the first of two meetings, and the only one to be played at the Scotiabank Saddledome this season. The clubs will finish off their quick, two-game set on Mar. 16 in NYC.

Last year, the Flames took both meetings with the Blueshirts, out-scoring them 9-2 in the process.

Matthew Tkachuk led all skaters in head-to-head scoring with five points (2G, 3A) - all in the same game. In doing so, he became the youngest Flame in franchise history to record five points in a single outing.

Johnny Gaudreau , Mark Giordano , Michael Frolik and the now-departed Garnet Hathaway also had multi-point showings in the season series.

David Rittich won both games for the Flames, and set a career-high with 44 saves in the Oct. 21, 4-1 victory at The Garden.

The Flames are 3-7-0 in their last 10 regular-season meetings and hold an all-time record of 57-42-15-5 against the Rangers, including an impressive 31-14-10-2 mark on home ice.

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: The Flames come into the new year looking to build off what was a very exciting 2019. They finished the calendar year with an overall record of 46-30-8 for 100 points. In that span, the Flames had the 12th-most goals in the NHL with 259, and the 14th-fewest goals against with 240. Johnny Gaudreau led the way for the Flames in 2019 with 75 points (25G, 50A) in 84 games, while Sean Monahan (26G, 41A) and Matthew Tkachuk (31G, 36A) both finished with 67 points. … THAT: The Flames now have four players with 30 or more points this season. Tkachuk tops them all with 36 (15G, 21A), while Monahan (13G, 20A) is next best with 33 points. Gaudreau (10G, 21A) and Elias Lindholm (16G, 15A) have 31 points each. The Flames are one of only 10 teams that have four or more players with 30-plus points on their NHL roster this year. … THE OTHER: Rangers defenceman Adam Fox was drafted by the Flames in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft. Fox was a part of the trade with the Carolina Hurricanes that brought Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to Calgary.

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Sam Bennett

Bennett was a beast in the second and third periods the other night, scoring a huge goal, dishing out a game-high six hits (including a jarring jolt on Chicago star Patrick Kane), and firing four shots in just under 14 minutes of ice time.

"It was a slow start for me - and for the whole team, really - but it was a big one (his late second-period goal) to give us a little life, and then we showed tons of fight in the third period," he said. "It's unfortunate we couldn't find a way to get that last one in."

Rangers - Kaapo Kakko

This will Calgary's first look at the 2019 second-overall pick. The 6-foot-3, 199-lb. winger has 14 points (6G, 8A) in 35 games this season.

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