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BUILDING MOMENTUM

A wild, third-period comeback the other night in Nashville has given the Flames all kinds of confidence for tonight's clash with the Blue Jackets

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

COLUMBUS - Momentum is a funny thing.

When it's against you, it can feel like every action snowballs and no matter what you do, nothing seems to go right.

But when you're able to turn the tide and it shifts in your favour, it can change your week, month, or even season.

The Flames are hoping their win against the Predators does just that.

"We found a way to get our swagger back," Derek Ryan said. "Get our confidence, hang on to pucks, make plays, and it went from there.

"I've been kind of calling it a turning point. We're trying to springboard and jump off of that third period, put together some good hockey for stretches here. I think we've done it in bits and pieces in the beginning part of the season but we really haven't put together a decent stretch of games where we're playing our best."

On Thursday, the Flames completed an incredible comeback in Nashville, tying the game twice in the final five minutes of regulation before Matthew Tkachuk's goal-of-the-year candidate ended things just 1.6 seconds before overtime wrapped up.

 

Video: CGY@NSH: Tkachuk goes between his legs for OT winner

 

But it wasn't just the comeback that has the team feeling confident. It is the lessons learned in the opening two periods at Bridgestone Arena, where they were outshot 27-9 before righting the ship in the third.

Now, it's about taking that game as a whole and finding a way to build off of it as they head into the final two games of the road trip.

"It happens organically. You can't force it," Ryan noted. "You just have to be focused, day-in and day-out, whether it's a practice day where you're focused on the details and not just floating through the day and then come game day, we need everybody. It's going to take everybody in the dressing room contributing, finding ways to play their best. We haven't had that so far so we need that."

For Milan Lucic, the momentum turned in Nashville primarily because of one thing: puck management.

"You focus on the little things. We broke the puck out well, we had the puck the whole third period," he said. "I think we spent maybe two or three shifts in our own zone in the third period. We weren't giving up the puck for free. We were supporting each other all over the ice and being hard on it.

"Yes, you can look and we scored four goals and talk about offence but what led to that offence? I think that's what you've got to focus on, more than anything. Keep it going."

Tonight, they'll face off against a 5-5-3 Columbus squad that will be looking to get back into the win column after dropping a 3-1 lead in St. Louis last night, ultimately falling 4-3 in overtime to the Blues.

Given the situation surrounding their opponents, they know how important it is to set the pace in the opening period.

"We're playing a real well-coached team that competes hard so we've got to start on time," head coach Bill Peters said. "Our starts haven't been as good, as consistent as we would like so that's a focus for this evening."

David Rittich will be back in net this evening, getting into his 13th game of the year. He has been one of the busiest goaltenders in the league, playing in 13 of the Flames' 15 games this season, but he's feeling great heading into the month of November.

"He's fresh and wants to play," Peters said. "He feels good. We've played a lot of hockey but we've had a lot of days where we've either just traveled or had days off. Coming off a day off, coming off a win and then with a back-to-back, it's time for him to start tonight."

The Flames will close out their trip tomorrow night in Washington, taking on the Capitals at 5:00 p.m. MT. Sportsnet will carry the television broadcast while Sportsnet 960 The FAN will host the radio broadcast. The Flames are back in Calgary on Nov. 5 when they host the Arizona Coyotes. Limited tickets are available HERE.

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