FLAMES (41-28-4) @ PREDATORS (36-25-11)
BROADCAST: 6 P.M. MT; Sportsnet Flames (TV), Sportsnet960 The Fan (radio)
SEASON SERIES: This is the third and final meeting of the regular season between the two teams. They have each won this season, both on the road. The Preds jumped out to a 4-0 lead at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 21 before a furious comeback fell just short, with Kris Versteeg, Michael Frolik and Sean Monahan scoring third-period goals to make it close. Then came the infamous shootout in Nashville on Feb. 21, where the Flames built a 4-1 second-period lead before the Predators stormed back with four unanswered goals to lead 5-4 after 40 minutes of play. Mikael Backlund tied it in the third and Mark Giordano scored 46 seconds into overtime for the victory. It was the first of Calgary's franchise-tying 10-game winning streak.
PREDATORS' TEAM SCOPE: Like the Flames, the Predators have been hot of late, winning four of their last five games. Ryan Ellis scored twice and Pekke Rinne made 25 saves in their latest victory, a 3-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Monday at the Bridgestone Arena in their first of a three-game homestand. While the Flames currently sit in the first wildcard slot in the Western Conference, the Preds are in the second berth and just three points behind Calgary. According to a Predators.com story Wednesday, the club is the holder of an odd stat this season: they lead the league in second-period goals with 90 and also top the league with a plus-31 goal differential in the middle stanza. That would be the same period in which they struck for four goals the last time the Flames played them. "I can't explain it," Preds coach Peter Laviolette told Predators.com. "I can only tell you the messaging that goes on inside the room, it's the same going into the game as it is going into the second period. We don't harp more on defence in the second period. We don't try to accelerate the offence in the second period. So I just can't explain it."
FLAMES' TEAM SCOPE: This is the Flames' second tilt of a three-game road trip. They are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals Tuesday night and will look to avoid suffering their first back-to-back losses since Jan. 23. Since then, they have lost three in regulation and one in overtime and always followed up defeat with a victory, going an impressive 17-4-1 on their recent run. Coach Glen Gulutzan said his players are a confident group which is why they've had no trouble regrouping after losses. "I think they believe in the way they play and I think they have a real strong belief that they have to play this way to have success and when you have all the guys on board it makes it a lot easier to bounce back," said Gulutzan. "You can certainly recognize reasons why you lost. You recognize those quite easily when you have a good foundation. And that foundation is easy to get back to and I think that's what's lead to some success." Sean Monahan (2g, 3a) and Johnny Gaudreau (1g 4a) have been hot of late, leading the club offensively.