The Calgary Flames headed to Vancouver last night to play one of their most important games of the season against the Canucks. They out-shot Vancouver in each period. They out-chanced Vancouver. They out-everythinged Vancouver, frankly. But they lost 4-2 due to bounces and some heroic goaltending from Ryan Miller.
The Flames get a second chance to beat Vancouver tonight at the Saddledome. Much like yesterday’s contest, the game has tremendous importance due to its playoff implications. Both teams want to hang around the playoff pack as long as possible, ideally in a playoff spot. A win tonight (for either side) will help them do just that.
The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
After Brian Elliott took the loss last night, allowing 4 goals on 13 shots, Chad Johnson slots back in between the pipes. He started in Vancouver back in October. He’s 13-8-1 with a 2.34 goals against average and .920 save percentage in 22 appearances this season.
A couple lineup notes for tonight: Jyrki Jokipakka and Garnet Hathaway are back in, which means that Tyler Wotherspoon and (probably) Freddie Hamilton sit. Wotherspoon struggled a bit last night at times, so changing up the defensive group seems like a good idea. Hathaway likely provides a bit more bite in his game than the elder Hamilton did last night, so that’s another decent move. Ladislav Smid and Troy Brouwer remain out with injuries.
The Flames’ top line of Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk continues to roll along nicely. Backlund is now the team’s outright scoring leader, which is something crazy to think about this far into the season. That trio has also bolstered the second power play group, which scored last night. They’ll need to be good again tonight for the Flames to grab a pair of points.
Last night’s lines via Daily Faceoff:
Ryan Miller was great last night, but he gets a night off after facing 46 shots. Jacob Markstrom instead suits up given the back to back situation. He’s 8-8-2 with a 2.60 goals against average and .913 save percentage.
Chris Tanev left last night’s game after block a shot, so that likely means that Alex Biega slots in and the defensive pairings get shuffled a bit. Beyond that, don’t expect many changes for the Canucks aside from perhaps Alex Burrows (who missed last night’s game due to illness) sliding back in if he’s feeling better.
The Canucks got two points almost entirely on the back of their goaltender last night. They’ll need to be better as a group if they want another two tonight.
This is Round 268 of this rivalry that has no official name – though I like “Rocky Mountain Rivalry” as a name. The Flames are 130-90-47 in their prior regular season meetings. Vancouver has won two of three games between these two clubs (once in overtime), so the Flames have a 1-1-1 record head to head this season with the Canucks. After tonight, they play one more time on February 18.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Your recommended follows from the other side for tonight:
SUM IT UP
The Flames are probably frothing at the mouth for a rematch after how well they played last night (despite the result). If they play the way they did last night again tonight, they’ll get two points. And with the Western Conference playoff race jam-packed, they could use two points.