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GAINING MOMENTUM

Monday's win gives the Flames plenty of positives to build off of

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

COLUMBUS - Monday night's match-up didn't start the way the Flames' had planned.

Just 62 seconds into their game against the Washington Capitals, a miscue in the defensive zone led to Lars Eller burying a shot from the slot to give the home team an early 1-0 lead.

With the Capitals gaining life from the speedy strike, Mike Smith stood tall to keep his club in it until they got back on track.

Once they settled into the game, however, it was all Flames.

Calgary rattled off four straight goals after Ellers' early snipe, completing the comeback and picking up their second straight win.

They outshot Washington 39-30, scored on two of their five powerplays, were perfect on the penalty kill, and as per HockeyStats.ca, the Flames had a 56 Corsi-for percentage in all-situations in D.C.

"I think that was definitely one of our best games, one of our most complete," Sam Bennett said. "We're doing the little things. We're limiting our turnovers, we're getting pucks deep and I think we're starting to play a lot stronger in the defensive zone. That's just going to keep building as the season goes on.

"Definitely, that was one of our best games and we're trending in the right direction right now."

For Kris Versteeg, Monday's win showcased what he believes is one of the group's best attributes - their overall demeanor in every game.

"Right now, it's just staying even-keel. I think that's what's been impressive. We get down in a game and no one really panics. We stick to our game plan and find ways to get back in and try to get a lead after that.

"We still have a lot more room to grow here but all in all, I like the way that we're handling adversity right now."

Another major positive that can be taken from their 4-1 win over the Capitals is continued growth of their third line.

While the Bennett, Mark Jankowski and Jaromir Jagr line had just one point - a Jagr powerplay assist - they hit two posts and all three had strong even-strength Corsi-for percentages: Jagr led the way with 62.92%, Bennett ended the night at 62.86% and Jankowski sat at 58.62%.

"Our line is generating a lot of chances and it's just a matter of capitalizing on them," Bennett said. "That's what we've got to do now."

The club has plenty of positives to build off from Monday's victory but there are areas of their game they weren't overly pleased with, despite the game's end result.

In their next tilt, on Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, they know their defensive zone play has to have more structure. They have been working at tightening up their game in their own zone but felt they were a bit too loose defensively at points during the night on Monday.

The Blue Jackets are an opportunistic crew that thrives on turnovers and a mistake in their own zone could very well end up becoming a quality scoring chance for Columbus.

"We've got to limit the amount of chances we're giving up," Bennett explained. "Obviously Smitty's been playing unbelievably for us but we've got to start bailing him out more, giving less opportunities to (the opposition)."

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