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Flames make lineup tweaks ahead of tonight's game

Glen Gulutzan has tinkered with his forward lines and defence pairings

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson /

TORONTO - Glen Gulutzan is mixing things up.

After a tough 7-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, the Calgary Flames' bench boss has made alterations to his forward lines and defence pairings ahead of this evening's match-up in Toronto.

Up front, Johnny Gaudreau will be reunited with Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett has been moved to centre Kris Versteeg and Troy Brouwer. Freddie Hamilton is expected to draw back into the lineup, flanking Lance Bouma and Matt Stajan.

Gulutzan is hoping shuffling Gaudreau to play alongside Monahan and Alex Chiasson will help kick-start the winger's production. Gaudreau has just one goal in his last 10 games and has picked up four points in the new year.

"I talked to both those guys ... I think Sean's game has been real good the last three. Johnny's had lots of looks at the net. What I hope is that they get some in the net and get feeling good about themselves - Johnny gets feeling a little confident.

"You know how a point or two or a goal can make you feel. He's still had lots of looks at the net, he's still had lots of chances. They'll eventually go in and that's what you tell those players of that calibre and skill.

"I hope they convert and execute tonight."

Gaudreau, who will play in his 200th NHL game tonight, has had plenty of experience playing alongside Monahan since coming into the league. He anticipates he and the pivot will be able to pick up each other's cues and read off of one another immediately.

"He's a great player. He's fun to play and obviously we have some great chemistry so it's going to be fun to play with him again."

On defence, Brett Kulak is slated to play his first NHL game since Nov. 27. He has sat as a healthy scratch since being recalled earlier this year.

"Obviously practices are really important," was his response when asked about potential game rust. "I've got to practice like I play and I've done that the last few weeks. Practice at a really high-tempo and move the puck quick so tonight when I step back in, I'm ready to go."

Jyrki Jokipakka will sit as a healthy scratch.

In net, Brian Elliott will get the start. On Saturday, Elliott went into the game in relief after Chad Johnson allowed three goals on four shots.

"I liked his previous game, Saturday in Edmonton in the 1-1 game that went to a shootout. I thought he was real good in that game," Gulutzan noted.

"It's a good game for him to come into tonight."

Elliott has a 8-11-2 record with a 2.87 GAA and a .893 save percentage this year.

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