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Kulak in, Johnson to start vs. Sharks

The Flames will make a couple of lineup changes tonight in San Jose

by Torie Peterson @ToriePeterson /

SAN JOSE, CA -- The Calgary Flames will have a different look on defence and in net tonight when they face the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center.

As per this morning's skate pairings, Brett Kulak will play, Dennis Wideman is expected to sit and Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie are slated to be partnered together against the Sharks.

Projected Lineup - Flames @ Sharks

The decision comes after the Flames have dropped back-to-back games, falling to the Washington Capitals at home on Sunday and to the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on Tuesday.

"The thought process is we're four and six. It's a pretty easy thought process," head coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We needed to change it up and get some guys who aren't playing into the lineup and see where we go. We've lost two so we wanted to make a change."

Tonight's match-up will be Kulak's first game since Oct. 20 when he was in the lineup for the Flames battle with the Carolina Hurricanes. The 22-year-old has played three games this season, posting one assist in that span. 

"I've got to trust my instincts and trust my abilities," Kulak said after the team's morning skate. "I've worked really hard in practice the last couple of weeks and I've just (got) to pick up where I left off when I played my last game. 

"I thought I had a good training camp. I feel confident with myself so I'm just looking to pick up right where I've left off."

Kulak is expected to play alongside Deryk Engelland, a pairing that has been used by Gulutzan in the past.

"It's great playing with Engo. He's been around a long time and he simplifies the game for me. I think we play really well together. We don't waste too much time in our own zone and get the puck in the forwards' hands and let them do their job."

In net, Chad Johnson will get the nod. His last start came on Oct. 22 when the Flames hosted the St. Louis Blues. The 30-year-old is 1-1-1 this year with a 2.89 GAA and a .901 save percentage.

"I know they come out hard in those first 10 minutes. I think they're one of the best teams in that first 5-10 minutes. They really get pucks in deep and they come fast," Johnson said of facing the Sharks.

"I think for us, our start is going to be huge. For myself, just the same way I've played all year and all season so far - just coming in and taking care of what I can. That's where my focus is."

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