We’re going to come out and have a great first like we did yesterday. When you do things right you’re going to get rewarded. Hopefully if we have the first period like we had yesterday we’ll get rewarded with a goal or two. - Paul Byron
BUFFALO, NY -- The Calgary Flames aren't about to let two turn into three.
After the Flames fell 4-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday to give Calgary back-to-back losses for the first time this season, the mission is to ensure the skid doesn’t become a trio.
“We’re just going to get back to what gives us success,” forward Paul Byron said. “We’re going to come out and have a great first like we did yesterday. When you do things right you’re going to get rewarded. Hopefully if we have the first period like we had yesterday we’ll get rewarded with a goal or two.
“I think the last two games for the most part we’ve been pretty good, just a couple stretches where turnovers led to goals. If we can take those out the team’s been playing good otherwise.”
It’s the first real test of adversity this season for the Flames, who still have six wins to show for in their past 10 outings.
The test comes in the form of the Buffalo Sabres, who have found victories in four of their past six games, including a 1-0 shutout of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
“These guys we can’t take lightly,” defenceman Deryk Engelland said. “They’re playing well. They shut out LA last night. Their goalie is playing great I’ve heard. We can’t take them lightly. We’ve got to come out of the gates flying and play a full 60.
“We definitely have to play a full 60 minutes in order to win games. We were pulling out wins at the beginning of the year that isn’t going to come all year long. We’ve got to play a full 60 minutes, get the lead, keep the lead and not spot teams two goals.”
Bob Hartley isn’t necessarily focused on Calgary’s back-to-back losses.
Instead, the Flames coach has his attention on his club’s fifth seven-game segment. They fell behind 1-0 to the Maple Leafs. He’s hoping to see things evened up in Buffalo.
“I think that the guys are really buying into our seven-game segment,” Hartley said. “Last night we lost Game 1. You want to win a round you have to win four (games). It’s all a matter of making sure short-term goals, focus. We’re going to be there. I have no doubt in my mind.”
BYRON BACK IN BUFFALO
Byron will mark Game 2 of Calgary’s segment against the only other NHL franchise he’s ever known. The 5-foot-7 forward was originally drafted in the sixth round, 179th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
“It’s a fun time,” said Byron, who has two goals and an assist in two career games against the Sabres. “This is the team that drafted me and gave me a chance. It’s always fun to come back to an old city for sure.”
The 25-year-old had ust eight skates with the Sabres, recording a goal and an assist.
Still, he’s eager to get at his old team.
“It’s always exciting. It’s like playing your hometown team. You’ve got to channel your energy the right way.”
Byron was acquired alongside former Flames defenceman Chris Butler in exchange for Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a second round pick in 2012.
MORE TO GIVE
While he’s seeing plenty from his top two pairings of Mark Giordano with TJ Brodie and Kris Russell with Dennis Wideman on the blue line, Hartley knows that his third set of Engelland and Ladislav Smid have more to offer.
In Tuesday’s loss to Toronto, both Engelland (9:30) and Smid (10:14) played to season lows in ice time.
“I think that they would like to see more ice time and at the same time we would like to give them more ice time but I think that they can be better,” Hartley said. “I’m sure that they will agree with us. We’ve had many talks. It’s a process. They’re three great guys and I even put Raphael Diaz in there.
“[Engelland], [Smid] and Raphi, they’re three super guys to work with. Right now obviously we’re in a race and we want to win games so sometimes it’s all about performances. I think that we can get better hockey from those three guys.”
Engelland does too, and he knows the recipe for improvement.
“We’re playing our best is when we’re simple,” Engelland said. “Get the pucks out of our end as quick as possible and into our forwards hands, be physical and deter guys from going into the corners and the front of the net.”
It’s Hartley’s formula for success from the pair, too.
It starts by keeping it simple and taking care of Calgary’s end first.
“As a role of a 5-6, it’s in your zone,” he said. “That’s where it starts. The red light cannot go on when you’re on the ice. Simple plays and then if you have a chance to go, go. We look at those three guys and they have quite a few scoring chances since the start of the season because they have the same liberties as [Wideman], [Russell], [Giordano] and [Brodie].”