The Calgary Flames last won three consecutive games in early December. With their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, they desperately need to reach that feat when they play host to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
Sitting four points out of a playoff spot with 17 games remaining entering Thursday, the Flames head into the clash well aware how dire their situation is, but also buoyed from winning games on consecutive nights.
After beating the Dallas Stars 5-4 thanks to Tyler Toffoli’s goal with seven seconds remaining on Monday, they claimed a 1-0 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild because of a brilliant 40-save performance from goaltender Jacob Markstrom and Toffoli’s winner in the fourth round of the shootout. The Wild had an apparent overtime winner waived due to an offsides call found on review.
Considering the Flames this season have lost 18 games when outshooting opponents by at least 10 shots, nobody is apologizing for a couple of wins that required good fortune.
“There’s times in the season we’ve played well and haven’t got the result, got tough bounces,” forward Elias Lindholm said. “It was nice to see two bounces in two nights go down that way.”
The Flames will need many more bounces go their way to make the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that is not all. Markstrom continuing his run of strong starts is among the biggest requirements.
“That’s what you need from the goaltending position, on any team and in any league,” said Markstrom, who recorded his first shutout of the season and 18th of his career. “Obviously, I haven’t been on top performance-wise but you’ve got to keep grinding and keep putting in the work.”
The Ducks have climbed out of the bottom of the Pacific Division by netting points in six of their last seven games (4-1-2), with their latest affair a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
Anaheim has one win in its last four games (1-1-2) and is destined for strong odds to win the draft lottery, but it continues to battle. Brock McGinn’s second-period goal erased a 2-1 deficit only 20 seconds after the Canucks pulled ahead.
“We played a hell of a game,” coach Dallas Eakins said. “This league, it’s always hard to win that second game on a back-to-back, but we played a really good four-line game. Our goaltending was good and we put ourselves in a spot to at least get a point.”
A disappointing season may be working to its conclusion, but the Ducks do have hope for the future. Their two young stars, Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry, continue to produce.
Zegras has scored two goals and five points in a four-game point streak, including a highlight-reel-worthy, stick-between-the-legs tally in Seattle on Tuesday. Terry has netted five goals in his last seven games.
At issue is the lack of production beyond that pair, although McGinn scoring in his second game since being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline was a boost.
“It’s nice to be able come here and get one in the first couple games,” McGinn said. “It just helps me settle in a bit and feel more comfortable being able to contribute.”
–Field Level Media