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STITCHED UP BENNETT READY FOR THURSDAY'S GAME

After taking a high stick to the face in Nashville, the forward underwent a root canal and has 10 stitches

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

Sam Bennett's Wednesday got off to a rocky start.

After receiving 10 stitches following Tuesday's game in Nashville, the 20-year-old underwent a root canal in Tampa to remedy the damage caused by the high stick he took in the 6-5 overtime win over the Predators.

But, despite the swollen lip and stitches, he was in an upbeat mood following the team's meeting at Amalie Arena.

The reason?

He'll be ready to play tomorrow when the Flames take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at 5:30 PM MT (SNW, SN960).

"I'm alright," he grinned. "I'll be good for tomorrow.

"It doesn't feel too good right now but it's part of the game."

For head coach Glen Gulutzan, not having his young pivot out for a game or two following the injury is understandably great news - particularly after the outing he had against the Predators.

He sang Bennett's praises in his post-game media address in Nashville and continued that on Wednesday, noting that Bennett's play on Tuesday was one of his best performances this season.

"I thought he was really engaged in that game. Not only the fight but he was physical, he was skating. I really see his game trending in the right direction as far as where he needs to go. He's a young guy. You can see the battle and fire in him. We showed it a little today in video and he's trending in the right direction for sure.

"He's playing hard and he's competitive. I think it's a good stepping stone for him."

In total, Bennett had two shots, one blocked shot and a fight in his 12:37 of ice time in the 6-5 overtime win in Nashville. But that stat line is only a part of the story. Bennett's play away from the puck, his attention to detail and playing a responsible game in his own zone earned rave reviews from the coaching staff.

Gulutzan isn't concerned about Bennett's offensive totals this season, which sit at 10 goals and 20 points through 59 skates. He knows the points will come as long as Bennett is consistent with his attention to detail.

"The offence, when you're doing all those little things, the offence will start to come. He's putting in the work in those detail areas, in the physical areas, in the spots he needs to get to and how hard he needs to work. The offence is going to come out of that. He'll make plays because he's a skilled player but he's putting in the work in other areas."

Reflecting back on Tuesday's performance, Bennett was pleased with his play against the Predators and his aim is maintain that level of intensity throughout the stretch drive.

Would he like to see an uptick in his offensive production? Of course. But his primary focus is on helping his team succeed, any way he can.

"I was engaged. It was play-off like. It was intense," he said of Tuesday's tilt. "That's the way it's going to be for the rest of the year. I'm going to continue to be involved and be engaged."

"If I'm not contributing offensively right now, I've got to do whatever I can to help this team win. That's what I'm going to continue to do."

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