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Glen Gulutzan will go back to Mike Smith for the second straight night

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

VANCOUVER - Turning the other cheek simply isn't in Mike Smith's mental makeup.

Turning things around is.

"Any time you have an off-night as a team and as an individual,'' the Flames' combative goaltender was saying late Saturday morning, "you want to get back in there, right the ship and help be a part of that.

"You can't wait to get the bad taste out of your mouth.

"So the good thing is we get a chance to redeem ourselves right away."

Far and away the Flames' most influential individual through a bright 3-2-0 opening to this season, Smith was pulled after surrendering five goals on 22 shots - an inordinate amount being of the gilt-edged variety - through 48 minutes of frustration in Friday's 6-0 loss to the visiting Ottawa Senators.

Given the Flames' back-to-back situation this evening at Rogers Arena and Smith's early-campaign workload, the script seemed to be written for ex-Canuck Eddie Lack to receive his starting baptism at Rogers Arena, a building he knows very well indeed after spending two seasons in Canuck livery.

Instead, the Flames have opted to turn to their ace for a sixth consecutive start.

"(Lack) certainly does appear like a good opportunity, a good storyline,'' conceded coach Glen Gulutzan. "But Smitty's played that well that we felt we'd go back to him.

"I don't know if there's much you can do on one-timers from the top of the circle. That's just a byproduct of us taking too many penalties and those things are going to happen.

"So I don't think it's a bounce-back game for him so much as a bounce-back game for our team.

"It wasn't his fault. He's going to be dialed in regardless.

"We felt this was a chance for our team to play better in front of him than they did last night."

With five days between the joust against the Canucks and a home date versus the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday must've played a par in the decision to Smith on consecutive nights.

"We'll try to get back on track (tonight), then have a few days off here to let the body rest a little bit and keep things going,'' reasoned Smith.

The Flames actually started strongly against the Sens and were territorially the better side through 35 minutes or so. But some opportunistic Ottawa sniping and an increasingly long queue to the Calgary penalty box conspired to turn the tables.

"We did a lot of good things early in game, into the second period,'' said Smith. "We found a way to kill of off a four-minute high-sticking penalty - which is going to happen sometimes - in a 1-0 game, then we're back in the box right away.

"You kill off something like that, momentum should be in your favour. Instead, they score and that momentum swings bright back again. Those things usually come back to haunt you.

"They certainly did last night."

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