The Calgary Flames are back after a four-day break. They are coming off a big shootout win in Dallas before Christmas. They know they have to win two of every three games on the schedule to claw back into the playoffs.
"We certainly felt a big relief winning that game," said Alex Tanguay, the hero with a goal late in regulation to tie the game and then the shootout winner. "Now we have to carry on. We pretty much have to win two out of three games the rest of the way. If we put our best effort forward, we will give ourselves a chance to do that."
Tonight they host the Buffalo Sabres, a team that learned recently that Derek Roy, their leading scorer is lost for the season with a torn tendon in his thigh. As good a time as any to collect another win.
"You know they are going to come in and play a really good road game," said head coach Brent Sutter.
The Sabres, almost by necessity, are playing a defensive brand of hockey and using the goaltending of Ryan Miller to keep their playoff hopes alive. After winning the Northeast Divison last season Buffalo has struggled. They are 14-17-4 heading into tonight's game and rank 12th on the Eastern Conference.
Expect a tight, defensive game with a big emphasis on special teams.
"Special teams might be the biggest thing in every game," said defenceman Mark Giordano. "It's hard to score five-on-five because teams are so good right now. The team that wins the special teams battle usually wins the game."
FLAMES SCRATCHES: Based on the line rush combinations from the morning, it would appear Craig Conroy, Mikael Backlund and Brendan Mikkelson are the healthy scratches. Daymond Langkow (neck); Raitis Ivanans (head) and Steve Staios (shoulder) are out with injuries.
Tanguay- Jokinen- Iginla
GAMETIME: 7 p.m., Scotiabank Saddledome. Sportsnet West and The Fan 960