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FLAMES EXPECTING FAST-PACED TILT IN TAMPA

Calgary knows they'll be facing a energetic, desperate team in the Tampa Bay Lightning

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

Heading into tonight's match-up at Amalie Arena, the Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning are in very similiar positions.

Both teams are fighting tooth and nail to solidify a playoff spot and both clubs head into this evening's game on a point streak.

The Flames, who are sitting in the second Western Conference Wildcard spot, are 2-0-1 in their last three skates and picked up a 6-5 overtime win in Nashville on Thursday.

The Bolts, who are four points out of an Eastern Conference Wildcard position, have points in their last seven games and are coming off of a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Suffice to say, both clubs are expecting a fast-paced, intense affair this evening.

"Looking at their game, they're obviously hitting a little bit of their stride, especially their one line with Johnson, Palat and Kucherov. We've got to be totally aware of that," Calgary head coach Glen Gulutzan stated.

"But we've kind of gotten used to these Eastern games - lots of pace, we're going to have to play with lots of pace tonight. We're going to have to make sure we're playing fast and defending fast. It's going to be good game."

Tampa bench boss Jon Cooper echoed his Calgary counterpart. He has been keeping tabs on the Flames ahead of tonight's game and knows what his team is up against.

"The one thing is that you're battling a team that is in the second Wildcard spot and they're fighting for their lives just as we are. So, scary team to play when you're getting down to the short hairs in the season and they're scraping for a playoff spot. Their desperation level is probably right about where ours is. Those are always a tough challenge."

As Gulutzan mentioned, a big part of Tampa's recent success can be attributed to their top line. Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, dubbed the Triplets Line, combined for eight points in their win against Edmonton and can dismantle their opponents with their skill.

"Definitely small, quick and very skilled," Dougie Hamilton said. "They move the puck really well to each other, remembering from past games here. They're good in the o-zone … (we've got to) try to keep it in their end and limit their time and space when they do have it, do the best we can at that."

Like the Bolts, the Flames' top trio head into tonight's game firing on all cylinders as well. Micheal Ferland was placed on a line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on Tuesday and scored twice against the Predators. The three combined for nine points in Nashville.

Given how well Ferland meshed with his new linemates, he will remain on their right wing this evening.

"He's a great player. Great teammate too and a lot of fun to play with," Gaudreau said of his newest linemate. "He works hard. He's good on the forecheck and a great shot too, you saw that from last game. He's got some skill to him too and he's smart with the puck."

Gaudreau had four assists in the victory over the Predators, setting a new single-game career high. The winger had been held pointless in his four previous games but with the team's strong play in recent weeks, he hasn't let frustration over his production take over his game.

"Keep sticking the way I've been playing my whole life - as long as I'm getting the chances, getting the looks, trying to set up my teammates and trying to help this team win.

"I think, personally, we're in a great spot right now as a team and I don't really need to focus on my personal goals as much as the team goal right now. I'll do what I can to help the team win right now and go from there."

NOTES: Monahan is one goal away from hitting 100 in his career. He is also two assists shy of 100 ... Michael Frolik needs 1 point for 300 ... the Bolts are hosting Pride Night this evening and the Flames will join them in using Pride Tape during warm-ups ... the Flames have put together a run of 4-1-1 in their last six road games with all four of the wins coming in extra time (three in overtime, one in the shootout). Mikael Backlund and Gaudreau each scored one of those OT winners and the pair have seven and nine points, respectively, in those half dozen games.

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