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5 THINGS - FLAMES VS. SENATORS

Calgary opens a three-game homestand tonight vs. Ottawa

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (12-12-4) vs. SENATORS (11-14-1)

5:00 p.m. MT | TV: Sportsnet/City | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN

2019-20 Season Series: 0-0-0

 

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Matthew Tkachuk (23)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (12)

Senators:

Points - Jean-Gabriel Pageau (19)
Goals - Pageau (13)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 15.9% (24th) / PK - 85.3% (4th)

Senators:

PP - 9.4% (31st) / PK - 83.0% (13th)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:    

Shot Attempts: 51.78% (8th)
High-Danger Chances: 47.98% (21st)

Senators:

Shot Attempts: 48.11% (9th)
High-Danger Chances: 51.13% (12th)

 

Video: Brendan Parker sets up tonight's all-Canadian tilt

 


1. US

The Flames are coming off a 3-2 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, and return home with a 2-1-1 record for five of a possible eight points on a four-game road swing.

Elias Lindholm netted the OT winner with his team-leading 12th tally of the season, while TJ Brodie (his first of the year) and Matthew Tkachuk supplied the goals in regulation.

Meanwhile, David Rittich - who made his league-leading 22nd start of the campaign - was absolutely sensational, stopping 34 shots (including 16 in the third period and overtime) to improve his record to 11-7-4 on the year.  

"We're going back home feeling way better about ourselves - that's the important part," Tkachuk said following the victory. "You know, the feeling in the dressing room is great right now. We're not sitting in a pretty spot, we're .500, but the way it started and the way things were going for us, to get back playing the way we know we can a little bit (is good)."

Rittich, who sports a .913 save percentage and a 2.76 goals-against average, was originally scheduled to get the night off, but in light of the uncertainty surrounding the coaching situation, interim boss Geoff Ward felt Rittich would provide a calming influence.

That he did.

Tonight, though, the starting puck-stopper has yet to be confirmed.

This is the first of a three-game homestand for the Flames, who will play seven of their next nine on Scotiabank Saddledome ice.

The home-cooked meals have come at a good time for the players, who've endured some arduous times of late, what with the Brodie scare a few weeks ago, and recent turmoil surrounding the coaching situation.

 

 

But one thing was clear following Friday's practice at the 'Dome: The Flames are ready to turn the page.

"We're not going to implement huge changes," Ward said. "Our players know how to play the game. Right now, I think it's so important that, collectively, we come together as a group. As things go along, we can slowly implement any changes we think we should make or want to make.

"But right now, we want to keep it the same for the players as such as we can.

"Our focus right now is preparing to play the Ottawa Senators (tonight). All the other stuff has to stay in the background."

 

Video: Flames react to coaching change

 

2. THEM

The Senators were in action less than 24 hours ago, dropping a 7-2 score to the Minnesota Wild to kick off a season-long, five-game road trip. Nick Paul's third of the season opened the scoring for the Sens late in the first period, and Matthew Tkachuk's little brother, Brady, gave the visitors a 2-1 lead midway through the second, but the Wild answered back with six unanswered goals - including four in a 6:04 span in the third period - to earn the win and stretch their point streak to eight games (5-0-3).

"It was just a poor effort by us all around," Ottawa D man Mark Borowiecki told Jessi Pierce of NHL.com. "Even when we came out of the first and we're up 1-0, I don't even know if we deserved that. It wasn't our best hockey. … We came out even worse in the second and they took it to us."

Goaltender Anders Nilsson was tagged with the L after allowing all seven goals - including four on only eight shots in the third period.

This past Thursday, Nilsson's '1A/1B' partner, Craig Anderson, was placed on IR with a lower-body injury. As a result, rookie Marcus Hogberg was recalled from AHL Belleville, and is likely to get the start in goal tonight.

"I've said all along, this is process of how many guys we can get to play better and (be) part of the future of this group," Sens head coach D.J. Smith told Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun prior to the road trip - confirming Hogberg would tend the pipes in one of the two games on this current, back-to-back set. "He's certainly part of it. He's played well of late (in Belleville) and he'll get his shot."

The 25-year-old - taken 78th overall in 2013 Draft - is 6-6-0, with an .892 save percentage and a 3.21 goals-against average for the minor-league Senators this year.

He has four appearances on his NHL resume and holds an 0-2-1 record, an .884 save percentage and a 4.09 GAA.

The Sens enter this evening's tilt on three-game losing streak after going 7-2-0 in their previous nine.

 

3. US VS. THEM

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

Last year, the Flames took both encounters with the Sens - a 2-1 win on Feb. 25 in the nation's capital, followed by a 5-1 triumph on Mar. 21 in Calgary.

Michael Frolik led all skaters in head-to-head scoring, notching three helpers in the two-game set. Mikael Backlund had a pair of goals, and David Rittich earned one of the two victories with a stellar, 22-save effort in the February matchup.

 

Video: Flames beat Senators for fifth straight home win

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: On Friday, Geoff Ward was named interim head coach after Bill Peters resigned from the organization. Ward, 57, was originally hired by the Flames as an associate coach on May 31, 2018, after previously being an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils. Born in Waterloo, Ont., 'Wardo' has 12 years of NHL coaching experience, eight at the minor-pro level (AHL, DEL), and another half-dozen in the OHL ranks dating back to the 1992-93 season. Prior to being an assistant coach with the Devils, he was an assistant with the Boston Bruins and won the Stanley Cup with them back in 2011. Before getting into coaching, Ward was a Grade 5 elementary school teacher in Kitchener, Ont. … THAT: Sean Monahan will skate in his 500th NHL game tonight. The 25-year-old played in his first NHL game on Oct. 3, 2013, notching his first-career point (an assist) in that tilt. Since then, Monahan has scored 178 goals and 383 points, the 16th most points in Flames franchise history. … THE OTHER: The Flames have played only 11 home games this year, tied for the fourth-fewest in the NHL. The Flames are 6-3-2 on home ice this year, with Matthew Tkachuk (7G, 4A), Monahan (3G, 7A), and Mark Giordano (3G, 7A) leading the squad in scoring at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Michael Frolik

Frolik picked up an assist on Matthew Tkachuk's tying goal in Buffalo, and was a major contributor on the offensive side of the puck all night. In 12:05 of even-strength ice time, the 31-year-old was a factor in a team-high six high-danger scoring opportunities, and was on the ice for only one against.

Senators - Anthony Duclair

Duclair is off to a great start with 10 goals in his first 26 games, equating to a 30-plus-goal pace over a full season. After stops in New York, Arizona (and AHL Tucson), Chicago and Columbus, the 24-year-old looks to have found a home in Ottawa, and looks poised to shatter his previous career high of 20 goals, set during the 2015-16 campaign as a member of the Coyotes. 

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