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Preview: Flames at Kings

Calgary can lock up first wild card; Goalie Ben Bishop expected to start for Los Angeles

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

FLAMES (44-32-4) at KINGS (38-34-7)

10:30 p.m. ET; SN360, FS-W, NHL.TV

 

Flames team scope

The Calgary Flames can clinch the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with a win against the Los Angeles Kings and a Nashville Predators regulation loss at the Dallas Stars on Thursday. The Flames and Predators each have 92 points with two games remaining. "I think everyone's really excited for the playoffs coming up, but we have to finish off strong and play the right way, continue to do that so we can do it in the playoffs," forward Freddie Hamilton told the Flames website Thursday. "We're still trying to win, get some momentum going into (the playoffs)." Hamilton and forward Curtis Lazar will dress in place of Matt Stajan and Lance Bouma, and defenseman Dennis Wideman will play for Michael Stone. "If we get to where we'd like to go, we're going to need lots of bodies," coach Glen Gulutzan told the Calgary Herald. "We need to get guys in and playing and get them up to game speed." Goalie Jon Gillies will make his NHL debut. Gillies, who was selected in the third round (No. 75) of the 2012 NHL Draft, is 17-14-4 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .909 save percentage in 38 games with Stockton of the American Hockey League. "It's exciting," he said. "It's something you've been waiting a long time for, since you started playing hockey. I'm excited that my family gets to be here."

 

Kings team scope

The Kings, who were eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention when they lost 2-1 to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday, is 5-6-1 in their past 12 games. "You play hard, you try to win games, bottom line," captain Anze Kopitar told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. "We're not going to go out there and just tank it. There's some stuff that each and every individual has to work on. And I guess there's no better time to do it." The Kings are playing the Flames for the third time in 19 days. Los Angeles lost 5-2 on March 19 and won 4-1 on March 29, each in Calgary. Forward Adrian Kempe, 20, will be a healthy scratch. Andy Andreoff, 25, will play in his place. "You're not going to learn just by playing, you're going to learn by watching and by listening and things like that," coach Darryl Sutter told LAKingsInsider.com. "I didn't like taking him out tonight, but it's the same thing. Another young player in Andreoff that hasn't played lately, so I wanted to get Andy back in." Goalie Ben Bishop is expected to start. Bishop is 2-2-2 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .911 save percentage since being acquired by the Kings from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26.

 

Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Micheal Ferland

Matthew Tkachuk -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Kris Versteeg -- Sam Bennett -- Alex Chiasson

Freddie Hamilton -- Curtis Lazar -- Troy Brouwer

Mark Giordano -- Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie -- Dennis Wideman

Matt Bartkowski -- Deryk Engelland

Jon Gillies

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, Michael Stone, Rasmus Andersson

Injured: Chad Johnson (lower body)

 

Kings projected lineup

Tanner Pearson -- Anze Kopitar -- Jarome Iginla

Kyle Clifford -- Jeff Carter -- Jonny Brodzinski

Trevor Lewis -- Nick Shore -- Dustin Brown

Andy Andreoff -- Nic Dowd -- Tyler Toffoli

Derek Forbort -- Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin -- Alec Martinez

Brayden McNabb -- Kevin Gravel

Ben Bishop

Jonathan Quick

Scratched: Marian Gaborik, Paul LaDue, Adrian Kempe, Jordan Nolan

Injured: Matt Greene (back)

 

Status report

Gillies was recalled from Stockton after Johnson sustained a lower-body injury in the first period of a 3-1 loss at the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. Johnson returned to Calgary for further evaluation. …Gravel could play in place of LaDue.

 

Who's hot

Gaudreau has 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in his past 15 games. ... Monahan has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past nine games. ... Versteeg has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past six games. ... Shore has one goal and four assists in his past three games.

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