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At the Rink: Sabres at Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will go for their eighth straight home win Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres (9 p.m. ET; SN360, MSG-B).

The last time the Flames won eight straight at home was Feb. 23 to March 27, 2013.

Karri Ramo will start in goal for the Flames (11-14-2) for the fourth straight game, and for the 16th time in the past 17 games.

"That's what they always said, was to be ready," Ramo said. "I still think we are going the same way. I will take it game-by-game. I don't think anything is ever said about after tonight's start. I just keep focusing the same way. I play whatever I play. If I have to play every game, then I play every game.

"Right now it's only focusing on playing games. You don't have to worry about anything else. It's easier to focus on games. It's easier to get ready."

Ramo started the season winless in three starts with a 4.37 goals-against average and .879 save percentage. He was assigned to Stockton of the American Hockey League after clearing waivers Oct. 22 but was recalled after goaltender Jonas Hiller sustained a lower-body injury in a 5-4 shootout loss against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 28.

He stopped all six shots faced in one period in the AHL before the recall.

"Even when I was sent down [to Stockton] you know in the NHL everything changes really quickly," Ramo said. "One day you might be playing like this and the next day you might not be here. So you've got to enjoy it and be ready all the time. You never know what is going to happen. I didn't think this would happen but I'm not really that surprised either."

In 18 games this season he is 9-8-1 with a 3.00 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.

"Ramo has been carrying the load. He's been playing well," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Big saves at the right time. We're seeing [Ramo] from last year. We all know the importance of goaltending so it's good to see [Ramo] back on track."

Ramo will start opposite Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson.

Johnson, from Calgary, is making his first NHL start in his hometown.

"It's exciting to be able to play at home in front of family and friends against a team you grew up watching since you were born, pretty much," said Johnson, whose family moved from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Calgary when he was 1-year-old. "It's going to be fun; a lot of fun.

"I think you're back at home, you have family and friends there. I would hope I'd have butterflies. I think it's always good to have a few butterflies before the game. I think it means you're into it and you're aware of the situation. I think you embrace it. I'm looking forward to it."

Johnson has started five of the past seven games for Buffalo (11-14-3).

"Chad's at his best when he's been calm and quiet in net and that's what he's been," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Earlier in the season we saw some spectacular saves from Chad. I don't think he's had to make any spectacular saves with how solid he's played, how controlled he's played."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie McGinn - Ryan O'Reilly - Sam Reinhart

Evander Kane - Jack Eichel - Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson - Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson

Nicolas Deslauriers - David Legwand - Marcus Foligno

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Carlo Colaiacovo - Zach Bogosian

Jake McCabe - Cody Franson

Chad Johnson

Linus Ullmark

Injured: Robin Lehner (ankle), Tyler Ennis (upper body), Mark Pysyk (lower body)

Scratched: Cal O'Reilly, Mike Weber


Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - David Jones

Sam Bennett - Markus Granlund - Jiri Hudler

Mason Raymond - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik

Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Joe Colborne

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Dennis Wideman - Dougie Hamilton

Ladislav Smid - Deryk Engelland

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Injured: Lance Bouma (broken leg), Kris Russell (upper body)

Scratched: Micheal Ferland, Josh Jooris

Status update: After announcing Johnson as his starter, Bylsma said the rest of his lineup would be a game-time decision. … Hiller missed Calgary's morning skate because of sickness but is expected to back up Ramo. University of Alberta Golden Bears goaltender Luke Siemens practiced in place of Hiller. … Bollig will play in place of Ferland after being a healthy scratch the past five games.

Who's hot: McGinn has two goals and five assists as part of a career-high six-game point streak. … Reinhart has four goals in his last five games. … Brodie has five assists during his four-game point streak. … Giordano has five points in his past five games.

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