The Calgary Flames cannot have a perfect road trip through California, but a win in Friday’s clash against the Anaheim Ducks could make it good enough.
The Flames head to Anaheim after Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings, but do have a 2-0-1 record during this sojourn, thanks to consecutive wins over the San Jose Sharks that kicked it off.
“We’re excited. We can be in a good spot with a win,” forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. “Get a win, get a good break.”
The game will be the league’s final one before the holiday break. Calgary, which has a 2-2-4 record in its past eight games, heads into the clash after an odd contest with the Kings.
The game was tied 1-1 after two periods before the Kings scored a pair of goals 10 seconds apart early in the third period. However, the Flames cued a comeback over the final 14 minutes to force extra time, and could have won it had Huberdeau not opted to pass instead of shooting when given a golden chance. Instead, they dropped a fifth consecutive extra-time affair.
The Flames could see the proverbial glass as being both half full and half empty.
“I think we had three lines and five defensemen that did a really good job for us,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “You’re in a tough stretch — December is a tough stretch of games — and you need everybody.”
Even so, it was a gritty comeback for a team that is trying to find momentum.
“It was good to see us tie up there and battle to get the point,” defenseman Noah Hanifin said. “We have an older team and guys who have gone far and won Stanley Cups. They’re pretty comfortable in those situations and us young guys try to follow it.”
While the Flames are hoping to find a spark to get them over the hump and into a playoff position, the Ducks are mired near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, ahead of only the Chicago Blackhawks. The Ducks have dropped two straight games — the latest a 4-1 home loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday — and have just three wins in their last 14 outings (3-9-2).
While there are myriad reasons for Anaheim’s struggles, making things even more difficult of late is a lack of discipline. The Ducks amassed 13 minor penalties in their past two games.
“It has to stop,” coach Dallas Eakins said
The Ducks are (in a bad way) second in the league in total penalty minutes, average penalty time per game and total penalties taken. They have been shorthanded more than 30 times more often than they’ve been on a power play. Winning is hard enough in the NHL, especially with a rebuilding squad like Anaheim’s, but the Ducks are adding a degree of difficulty with constant trips to the penalty box.
“The penalties just take you out of that rhythm and don’t let you get going five-on-five,” forward Adam Henrique said.
The trend is especially difficult for a team that is using its third-string goalie, as Anaheim is with Lukas Dostal in net while John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz are on the shelf.
To his credit, Dostal has given his team plenty of stops in all five of his starts, including a 38-save performance against the Wild and 46 versus the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
–Field Level Media