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FIRE AWAY!

Flames look to make life difficult on the red-hot Carey Price tonight by sending the house and employing a 'shooter's mentality'

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

If a 'shooter's mentality' can help heal a sputtering offence, you turn to the man with the high-powered artillery.

Rasmus Andersson knows a thing or two about that.

And he certainly isn't afraid to unload.

"We had a skills competition in the AHL a while back," the D man said, recalling his days with the Flames' top affiliate, the Stockton Heat. "My shot clocked in at 101 point… something… miles per hour.

"Five, four, three, I can't really remember. But getting it above 100 was pretty cool. That's the goal, right?

"It's one of my biggest (assets) and I obviously like to use it whenever I can."

It's an approach the Flames - as a whole - look to adopt this evening as the Montreal Canadiens pay a visit to the Scotiabank Saddledome for the only time this year.

The Flames are on a mini two-game slide, scoring once in a pair of home losses to the Carolina Hurricanes (4-0) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-1) earlier this week.

But they likely deserved a better fate.

The club fired 30-plus shots and had the majority of the scoring chances - high-danger and otherwise - in each of the past two games, but a couple of defensive lapses, combined with the efforts of a hot goaltender at the other end, turned fatal.

"Both those games, we could have been up by two or three with the way we were playing," Andersson said. "That's how good we played.

"But that's what we have to remember. If we like that, it'll happen. So, we've got to rebound, re-focus and stick with what works. And our focus right now is still to start on time like we have the past two games and clean up the second period.

"We ran into two really good goalies, too. (James) Reimer played unbelievable - we had a lot of really good, Grade-A chances. And the other night, (Tristan) Jarry was really solid, too. Sometimes you run into hot goalies and we're going to see another good one tonight in (Carey) Price, but that's when you've got to simplify and make life tough for them with a lot of shots and traffic in front."

It's especially true against the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge, who are coming off a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

The Habs have now won four of their last five, and Price - a former Hart, Jennings and Vezina Trophy winner - is rounding back into form after a disappointing start to the season.

The veteran now has a .908 save percentage and a 2.85 goals-against average in 27 appearances. He's been lights-out in his last five, especially, allowing only one goal three times, and two goals, twice.

As Johnny Gaudreau said at the morning skate, "We have our hands full."

"It's not unlike any other goaltender," interim head coach Geoff Ward said. "have to be volume shooters tonight. We have to make him make a lot of stops - make him make second stops, third stops... Make sure we're getting traffic in his eyes and making it difficult for him to make saves and keep him back in his crease.

"We're still working toward where we need to be that way, but we're seeing improvements.

"The guys are starting to get the focus that we need them to, in terms of shooting a puck when they have a lane as opposed to looking for the next play. And our traffic is still a work in progress, but it's getting better. You need to have that first guy right at the net, and you need that second guy there, too, ready to pounce, ready to get the stick loose for a high tip."

The Flames are looking to employ a "short-term memory" tonight. The last thing Ward wants is the players to over-think their reads on offence, freeze, double-clutch, and squeeze their cues a bit too tight.

Having piled up 27 goals for an average of 3.86 per on the recent seven-game win streak, they know the weapons are alive and well.

Patience will be a virtue.

"It's about being in a position where we can catch (Price) when he's vulnerable," Ward said. "Not allowing him to reset, not allowing him to anticipate, not allowing him to get out and establish the angle where he needs to have it.

"All those things in terms of numbers around the net are going to make it harder for him, so that's really what we focus on.

"There's no bad shot for us. If you don't have a play and you know there are guys going to the net - which there should be - it's never a bad play to get the puck there.

"Put the puck in his feet, make him do some things with it where he might kick out a rebound, he might bobble the puck where we can pounce on it and take advantage."

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