(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
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In each of their past two games, the Calgary Flames have had to survive some insanity. Against Vancouver on Saturday, Brian Elliott allowed a weird goal from center ice and the Flames had to pepper Ryan Miller with a zillion shots to tie the game up late and salvage a point. Then on Tuesday, the Flames blew a 4-1 lead with 10 minutes of rough defensive play against Nashville, then managed to tie the game in the third and win in overtime.
The Flames continue the “exorcise their demons” tour in Tampa Bay, as they face the Lightning, the last team to beat Calgary in a Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning are a non-playoff team missing some key players due to injury, while a lot of their remaining key players have under-performed this season.
The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Brian Elliott starts once again. He’s 13-13-3 with a 2.84 goals against average and .895 save percentage. He was very good against Philadelphia, pretty good for most of the Vancouver game, and then good enough against Nashville. He seems to be rolling, though, which is what the Flames need him to do at this time of year.
Don’t expect any changes for the Flames lineup, meaning the extra bodies are Dennis Wideman, Jyrki Jokipakka and Freddie Hamilton. Michael Stone will also, based on morning skate, be with the guy he finished last game with: T.J. Brodie. That’s right, the Flames acquired a top-four defenseman – or rather a defenseman they’re using in their top four – for the mere price of a third round pick in a bad draft. Life’s funny sometimes.
The Flames haven’t scored on the power play in five consecutive games (or 18 advantages), but they’ve managed to go 3-1-1 during their power outage. Mikael Backlund remains the team’s leading scorer after 60 games (with 41 points), with Johnny Gaudreau and rookie sensation Matthew Tkachuk two points behind him with 39 apiece. If Gaudreau can follow up his four assist performance from Tuesday with a similarly strong game, the Flames will have a good chance to win this one.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
A winner of five straight starts, Ben Bishop goes again tonight for Tampa. He’s 16-12-3 with a 2.55 goals against average and .911 save percentage. He hasn’t been Classic Bishop this season, but he’s still a good goaltender and the Flames will need to work hard to get goals.
The Lightning are missing some key players. They’re without Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan. And it’s sounding like they’ll be without Jonathan Drouin due to injury tonight as well. They’ve recalled Cory Conacher from the AHL. Tampa was expected to be a Stanley Cup contender this season, but they’re in tough to make the playoffs. They remain a desperate bunch and the Flames will probably need to match their desperation to get two points.
Despite playing on opposite sides of the continent, the Flames and Lightning sure do hate each other. They’ve played each other 33 times in the regular season – the Flames are 13-13-5 – and in one Stanley Cup Final. The Flames lost 6-3 to Tampa Bay back in December.
It was in.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Here are some Lightning follows for this evening:
SUM IT UP
The Flames head to Tampa Bay for a pair of games against Eastern Conference opponents. Whether they head to extra time or not, points are points and since they’re not competing with Eastern teams for playoff spots all that matters is that they keep accumulating points by hook or crook.
If they hit 88 points, they probably play past April 8.