LOS ANGELES, CA -- One down, two to go.
The Flames began their three-game trek through California on Thursday in San Jose, taking on a Sharks squad that had won three of the last four games.
A formidable challenge, no question, but after a rough ending to their game in Chicago on Tuesday, the Flames were set on getting this road trip back on track in The Golden State. And despite facing challenges throughout the game at the SAP Center, they kicked off their jaunt through California with a win over the Sharks.
That 3-2 victory has buoyed their confidence heading into this weekend's back-to-back set of games against the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks.
"The way we started to battle back to .500 and then dropped down again, we knew that coming to California, we'd have to stay in the race," TJ Brodie said after the Flames' optional skate at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. "To go out and play that way ... I thought it was a pretty solid game all around and against a good team. It's important. Now we just have to build some momentum and keep going."
Micheal Ferland, who picked up an assist in the win in San Jose, credited his team's resolve and determination for the victory last night. That kind of steadfastness will be essential when they battle the Kings on Saturday and the Ducks on Sunday.
"It was a team effort," Ferland said. "We obviously had to battle some adversity coming into the third with the two goals that they scored but we stuck with it and we found a way to win.
"We've got a lot of pushback in that dressing room and that's exactly what we needed after they got that second goal.
"We've just got to keep playing the way we know we're capable of playing. Get pucks deep, be solid on the bluelines and get traffic in front of goalies."
While the result didn't reflect the Flames' efforts in Chicago, their setback to the Blackhawks had plenty of positives to build off of. Add in their performance against the Sharks and you're starting to see a team crafting their identity and settling into a structure they feel confident in.
"Our whole thought is that we have to keep going through - and as cliche, as this is - we have to keep going through the process," head coach Glen Gulutzan emphasized. "We've kind of changed the way we want to play. I made reference to this yesterday, about a comment by a Chicago player before the game, that you're not sure what you're going to get when you play Calgary.
"What our job is and what we want to do in the room is change that perception so every night you know what you're going to get out of Calgary. That's something we want to keep going through the process of. It's got to happen 10, 12, 13 games in a row and then you see where you're at.
"I guarantee if we keep doing what we did in Chicago - if they didn't watch the game, it wasn't a 5-1 game - and what we did last night, kept a very good San Jose team to 10 chances, we keep doing that kind of stuff, we're going to find an identity."
When Gulutzan references a change in the way the team plays from years past, he is quick to point out that he doesn't want to strip away the core values the team has embraced in recent seasons. That never-say-die attitude is one he wants to build on and enhance.
"The identity that was here prior to me was always a real hard-working, competitive group," he explained. "What I would like to add to that - I don't want to take that away, I think that was well-established with the regime here - what I would like to establish is just a really solid, structured game that you're going to see every night. They're not a team that's going to give up 18 or 20 chances a night. They're a team that's only going to give you 10 or 11 chances - under 12 a night. And you're going to have to earn your way around the ice with them."