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5 THINGS - FLAMES VS. SHARKS

The Flames look to get back in the win column as homestand continues

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (27-20-5) vs. SHARKS (22-27-4)

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

2019-20 Season Series: 0-1-0

 

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Matthew Tkachuk (42)
Goals - Elias Lindholm (22)

Sharks:

Points - Erik Karlsson (37)
Goals - Evander Kane (16)

Special Teams:

Flames:

PP - 19.6% (16th) / PK - 81.6% 12th)

Sharks:

PP - 16.0% (26th) / PK - 87.2% (1st)

Advanced Stats:

Flames:

Shot Attempts: 50.38% (13th)
High-Danger Chances: 49.64% (20th)

Sharks:

Shot Attempts: 50.12% (15th)
High-Danger Chances: 48.41% (23rd)

 

Video: Brendan Parker sets up tonight's tilt

 

1. US

This is the second of a three-game homestand for the Flames, who are looking to get back in the win column after falling 8-3 to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.  

Buddy Robinson , Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm had goals, but after surrendering a pair only 1:05 of the game, the Flames had a mountain to climb the rest of the way.

Lindholm's team-leading 22nd of the season made it a 4-3 game at the midway point of the second, but it was all Oilers from that point forward.  

David Rittich got the start in goal, but was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots. He then had to re-enter the game for the final period and change after Cam Talbot was ejected for fighting.

It was quite the period for Talbot, who made 19 saves on 21 shots, and earned 21 penalty minutes in only 16 minutes of work. Not bad!

Interim head coach Geoff Ward criticized his team for not being "competitive" enough that night. He clarified those comments on Monday, preaching the importance of "emotional balance" in a game of that magnitude.

"Emotion is such an important part of the game, especially at this time of the year," Ward said. "If there's no emotion in the game, we have to try and generate some. That needs to be there. The emotional engagement needs to be there now in every game that you're playing. We'll be looking for that, for sure.

"For us, we've got to get off to a good start. It sounds like a broken record, but so many good things happen for your team when you get off to a good start, and (tonight), we're going to look at that first 10 minutes, try to get our game on the ice and get to our game early."

The Flames are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and enter the night in the first wild-card playoff spot.

"We like our team; we like our group … We like to win together and we want to keep doing that," said Travis Hamonic . "We want to put our foot on the gas here down the stretch. We've got a lot of big games coming up in some tough buildings and we're aware of that, and I think you just plug away, one game at a time. Leave the past in the past and move forward. That's our mentality right now and I think it's going to have to be that way."

 

Video: "Just get to our game early"

 

2. THEM

The Sharks are coming off a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, and have now lost two straight and five of their last six.

Their lone victory in that span came to one of the only two teams below them in the standings - the Anaheim Ducks.

"We're not creating a lot offensively," Sharks forward Evander Kane told Ross McKeon of NHL.com. We haven't since before the [All-Star] break. We've got to find a way to create more offense and score more goals. We can't have the mindset that one goal is enough to win."

It's been a tough row to hoe for the Sharks, who were pegged by many to make noise after reaching the Western Conference Final last year. But after losing their captain to free agency over the summer, and opening the season with only four wins in their first 15 games, they've been unable to recover.

With 22 wins in 53 games this year, the Sharks are on pace for only 74 points - which would be their lowest point total in 17 years (73 in the 2002-03 season).

Goaltending has once again been a sore spot, with former Calgary Hitmen star Martin Jones delivering a sub-.900 save percentage for the second straight year.

Airdrie native Aaron Dell has taken on a larger role between the pipes this year, with a 9-10-2 record, a .911 save percentage and a 2.82 goals-against average in 24 appearances. Dell was especially strong in the month of January, posting a 5-3-0 record, a .925 save percentage and a 2.38 goals-against average in eight outings.

Offensively, the Sharks are in a tough spot. Not only do they lack the firepower they once again, thanks - in large part - to the departure of Joe Pavelski, but their top-two leading scorers are now on the shelf due to injury.

Last Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks, all-star centre Tomas Hertl got tangled up with Chris Tanev and slammed awkwardly into the end boards. It was announced he'll miss the rest of the regular season with a torn ACL and MCL.

The 26-year-old led all forwards in scoring with 36 points (16G, 20A) in 48 games.

Hertl joins a growing list of banged-up Sharks that includes captain Logan Couture, who's out long-term with ankle fracture. Former Flame Dalton Prout (upper body) and Joel Kellman (undisclosed) are also on IR.

As a result, the Sharks have recalled forwards Alexander True and Maxim Letunov.

Both are expected to make their NHL debuts tonight.

 

Video: Marleau and Karlsson from the Sharks dressing room

 

3. US VS. THEM

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

In their first encounter back on Oct. 13, Tomas Hertl scored twice while Kevin Labanc had the other in a 3-1 Sharks win.

Elias Lindholm had Calgary's only goal, but 29 saves by Martin Jones proved to be the difference.

The Flames are 2-7-1 in their last 10 regular-season meetings and hold an all-time record of 63-49-8-6 against the Sharks, including a 34-21-4-3 mark at home.

The clubs will re-connect in less than a week when the Flames travel to NorCal in the second of a four-game road trip.

 

Video: Condensed Game: Flames @ Sharks

 

4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: With his assist on Buddy Robinson's first-period strike the other night, Johnny Gaudreau is now tied with Joel Otto for the 10th-most points in franchise history. He now trails Hakan Loob (428 points with the Flames) by only one point to become the ninth-highest scorer in Flames franchise history. The 26-year-old is second on the Flames in scoring this season with 41 points. ... THAT: Matthew Tkachuk is currently riding a three-game point streak. Tkachuk has registered four points (2G, 2A) over that span, adding to his team-leading 42 points this season. Tkachuk (88 goals) is now tied with Colin Patterson for the 29th-most goals in franchise history. With one more goal he can catch Mike Cammalleri for 28th. ... THE OTHER: Elias Lindholm is red-hot right now, scoring six goals in his last nine games.

 

5. PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Michael Stone

The veteran D man has been a healthy scratch for the past month, but could draw into the lineup this evening.

Stone was paired with Noah Hanifin during Monday's practice and while it usually isn't wise to make proclamations based purely on a 45-minute skate, it's clear he's chomping at the bit.

Practice ended with a physical, one-on-one battle drill that saw two skaters play keep-away inside the centre faceoff circle. Stone, who was frequently paired with Rasmus Andersson , rag-dolled his opponents, decking them to the ice each time to the cheer of his teammates.

So, yeah. He badly wants in.

 

Video: "I take pride in that"

 

Sharks - Timo Meier

Meier - like many in San Jose - is well off his pace from a year ago. But the former 30-goal scorer remains a formidable threat and could easily return to form at a moment's notice.

He enters the night with 16 goals and 32 points in 53 games.

Look for Meier on the second line with Joe Thornton and Kevin Labanc.

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