FLAMES (23-18-3) at SHARKS (24-16-5)
TV: CBC, CSN-CA
SAN JOSE -- Calgary Flames rookie goaltender Joni Ortio has been close to perfect since being recalled from Adirondack of the American Hockey League eight days ago to replace an injured Karri Ramo.
Ortio had a 36-save shutout in his season debut for the Flames, a 1-0 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 10, earning another start. Then he made 27 saves in a 4-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. And now he'll have another chance to prove himself when he makes his third straight start for the Flames against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday.
"I see sparks in his eyes," Flames coach Bob Hartley said after Calgary's morning skate. "His passion. His passion level is unbelievable. He gave us some big saves at the right time. He's on his toes. He wants to be a big part of this team. Right now, he's 2-0 and tonight is another big challenge."
Ortio said he welcomes another chance to prove to everyone that he can actually play at this level, but he's keeping his fast start in perspective.
"It's only two games," said Ortio, a native of Finland who was chosen by Calgary in the sixth round (No. 171) of the 2009 NHL Draft. "That's a small sample size. I just got to keep doing what I've been doing, not reading too much into things and not going ahead of myself because that's not a successful recipe. I know I've been saying that a lot, but just here and now, living in the moment."
Ortio said confidence is a big key to his success as a goaltender and that winning two straight games has boosted his.
"If you're not confident as a goalie, you're not on top of your game," Ortio said. "That's a fact. So it is a big part of my game for sure. Those two games have kept that going."
The Sharks have a huge scouting book on veteran Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller, who will back up Ortio for the third straight game, but they know little about the Finnish rookie.
"With Joni we don't have a lot of information on him, but we'll look at the last few games, where teams have been shooting from, why they maybe scored, and there haven't been many goals that they've given up," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "But the players will have to crack that nut tonight. They won't get a lot of help from us because there's not a lot of evidence there yet."
The Flames will have some new-look lines, too. Top-six forward Curtis Glencross will miss the game with a lower body injury he sustained in the first period against Arizona. Mason Raymond will take Glencross' spot in the lineup and skate on the third line with center Drew Shore and Joe Colborne.
Left wing Lance Bouma will move from the third to the second line and skate with center Sean Monahan and David Jones. Mikael Backlund will center the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler.
"I think it's a reward to Lance Bouma," Hartley said. "Again, don't read into my lines for too long. My lines are always written with a pencil, not a pen, on my card, so if I feel the game's not going our way, it's my job to mix the deck. It's always about gut feeling, but right now Lance Bouma's playing very well. He's physical, he's very reliable in the three zones. With [Glencross'] injury right now, it's all about reward."
Bouma has five assists over his past three games. He had a season-high 20:17 of ice time against Arizona.
"I'm moving my feet and being physical, and when I do that then my game seems to flow and I start playing better that way," Bouma said. "I think that's the biggest thing, just moving my feet and being physical."
The Flames (49 points) trail the Sharks by four points in the Pacific Division. They split their first two games this season, each team winning on the road and losing at home.
After back-to-back victories, Sharks coach Todd McLellan will use his same lines, which includes Tomas Hertl centering the fourth line. Hertl played center for the first time in his NHL career Tuesday and scored a goal in a 3-2 victory against the Coyotes. Hertl filled in that night for Andrew Desjardins, who missed the game to be with his wife for the birth of their son. He was a healthy scratch Thursday when the Sharks beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 and will be again against Calgary.
"Obviously it’s not what I’d hope for," Desjardins said. "I want to play. But you’ve got to understand that stuff happens. You’ve got to take a little bit of a supporting role and not get too down and just try to help out your teammates in other ways."
McLellan said Desjardins will be back in the lineup at some point.
"Just not tonight. We've performed fairly well; we've won two games," McLellan said. "Let's hope nothing changes. Let's keep playing the way we are. [Desjardins] is a very important part of our hockey club. He brings so many key assets to our team that we need on certain nights. He's become a good faceoff guy, a very good penalty killer. I don't consider his job lost because he's been out for two games, by any means. I think he's important and will continue to be important."
Here are the projected lineups:
Johnny Gaudreau - Mikael Backlund - Jiri Hudler
Lance Bouma - Sean Monahan - David Jones
Mason Raymond - Drew Shore - Joe Colborne
Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Paul Byron
Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
Ladislav Smid - Deryk Engelland
Scratched: Raphael Diaz, Markus Granlund
Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Josh Jooris (upper body), Karri Ramo (upper body), Curtis Glencross (lower body)
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Matt Nieto
Melker Karlsson - Logan Couture - Joe Pavelski
Barclay Goodrow - James Sheppard - Tommy Wingels
Tye McGinn - Tomas Hertl - Tyler Kennedy
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun
Scott Hannan - Matt Tennyson
Scratched: John Scott, Matt Irwin, Andrew Desjardins
Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Mike Brown (lower body), Mirco Mueller (upper body)
Status report: Niemi will make his fifth straight start in a battle of Finnish goaltenders. ... Hannan returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He'll replace Irwin. ... Smid is back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games. He'll replace Diaz.
Who's hot: Backlund has a four-game goal streak. He has six points (4-2-6) during that span, all coming after missing 29 games after abdominal surgery. ... Jones has a four-game points streak (1-4-5). ... Braun has three assists in his past two games, giving him 16 for the season. ... Pavelski leads the Sharks in points (38), goals (22), power-play goals (11) and shots (147). ... Niemi has allowed five goals on 85 shots over his past three games, going 2-1-0.