BUFFALO, NY -- The Calgary Flames kicked off their six-game road trip with a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday but they aren't fully satisfied with the effort they put forth at the Joe Louis Arena.
As head coach Glen Gulutzan put it, there is room for improvement.
"I think we need to be better tonight than we were last night. Going through that game in the wee hours of the morning, I thought we were good. We were good enough to get points out of there but I think there's still room for us to get a little bit better in some of the things we want to do.
"I thought we gave up too much through the neutral zone and that's what we looked at this morning. Detroit is still one of those teams that can get through you in the neutral zone, the way they bring up the puck together. I thought we weren't as connected as we needed to be there. We looked at some of that this morning."
Tonight, they will face a Buffalo Sabres squad that has struggled this season. They have won one of their last seven games and sit eighth in the Atlantic Division with a 6-8-4 record and 16 points. They are without two of their top forwards in Ryan O'Reilly, who has missed five of the last six games with an oblique injury, and Jack Eichel, out with a high-ankle sprain.
However, as the Flames warned in Detroit as well, they are up against a team that has plenty of potential and can burn their opponents if they underestimate them.
"They're a hard-working team so we're going to have to be ready to get our working boots on and have a good start and put ourselves in a good spot," Mikael Backlund said. "It's a back-to-back so a good start will be a key."
The Sabres are coming off a 2-1 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, in which they proved their ability to stay in games and keep things interesting. The Penguins put 47 shots on net but goaltender Anders Nilsson bolstered his team by turning in his best performance of the season.
Given the confidence they built from that win, the Flames could be in for another tight match-up this evening but they have thrived in those types of games on the road this season - last night in Detroit being a prime example.
Instead of having their energy deflate after the Red Wings scored their second goal of the evening, it motivated them to get another shot past Jimmy Howard.
"Even though they tied it 2-2, we kept going and we didn't get down on ourselves. That's a strength we've been building as the season has moved on," Backlund said.
"In those tie games, those one-goal games, we have been way better on the road," Mark Giordano added. "We've been making better plays late in games, more relaxed. For whatever reason, at home it seems like it's gone the other way. We've been a little more tenative in tight games."