RALEIGH - It isn't their first trip back to PNC Arena since leaving the Hurricanes but Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, and Derek Ryan are hoping for a repeat performance of last year's visit.
On that trip, the trio led the Flames to a 4-3 victory on Feb. 3 in Raleigh, each scoring against their former club. Hanifin's slapshot from the point ended up being the game-winner that night, capping off an impressive run that saw Calgary win five of their first seven road games in 2019.
"You can't write that," head coach Bill Peters, who was also making his first trip back to North Carolina since joining the Flames, said afterwards. "I thought it was a (heck of a) hockey game."
"On the drive in from the airport, we looked at each other and were saying that this was so weird," Ryan added in his post-game media scrum. "We've driven this road so many times, not on a bus and not with another team. It's a weird feeling. A lot of positive memories, so all positive emotions. The boys will be smiling because all three of us played well, and we came in here and won."
Now, the plan is for a repeat performance.
With a 6-5-2 record and 14 points, the Flames are trying to iron out inconsistencies in their game and this week's slate of road games give them a perfect opportunity to close out the month of October on a positive note and gain traction in a tight Pacific Division race.
"It's always pretty fun coming back here. It was a great place to live and play for my first couple of years in the league," Hanifin said following Monday's practice. "There are a lot of new guys on the team from when I was there but I still know a few of them. It will be good to go out there and compete with them.
"It's an important road trip, especially with where we are and how we've been playing. It's been a little too inconsistent, from what we should be doing. It's a huge game for us (today), obviously Carolina is a great team. They're playing really well right now, they're working really hard, so it's going to be a really good test for us."
Lindholm, who leads the Flames with seven goals, will be looked upon to play a big role in tonight's game.
Video: "Felt good to score coming back into this barn."
Peters is expected to keep the Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Lindholm line together this evening after a strong outing at the Heritage Classic in Regina on Saturday.
"I thought we played well first period, had a lot of chances, Johnny had a lot of good looks," Lindholm assessed. "We had some good shots. It was a good first period and then it was tough getting a rhythm (after), a lot of PKs and stuff like that. But first period was good so we can hopefully build off of that."
The newly-formed line features Lindholm at center ice - his natural position. While he has played wing for the vast majority of his time in Calgary, he relishes the opportunity to be back down the middle.
"Growing up playing center, that's where you want to be. You want to have the puck as much as possible and if you're a center, you have the puck a lot. That was always my theory. I've played wing for a while now but it's fun to have the puck, it's a fun opportunity for me."
Video: "We need all 4 lines chipping in"
Peters was pleased with how the line performed against the Jets in the 2-1 OT setback on Saturday and feels Lindholm's skillset makes him a natural fit to center Gaudreau and Tkachuk.
"He's a good heavy body down low in the defensive zone, he's aware defensively, he's a good playmaker, he gets the puck to his wingers - I think he's playing with two really elite wingers right now - and he's a guy who finds people and makes people better."
Game time is 5:00 p.m. MT with Sportsnet Flames carrying the television broadcast. The Flames are back at the Scotiabank Saddledome next week when they host the Arizona Coyotes at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 5. Limited tickets are available HERE.