The Calgary Flames (18-14-7) are looking to bounce back from a tough loss in Winnipeg earlier this week. The New York Islanders (22-16-2) are hoping to prevent their four-game road trip from becoming a complete disaster by salvaging a .500 record with a win over the Flames.
Only one will accomplish their goal at the Saddledome on Friday night. (Sportsnet, 7 p.m.)
One sign of a good team is avoiding back-to-back losses, which is what Calgary Flames defenceman Nikita Zadorov touched on this week.
"The biggest mindset for good teams is that those teams don't lose two in a row or three in a row," Zadorov told reporters. "It's going to be a big rebound game for us. That's the main thing that we'll focus on. We got to fix some stuff in our game; we got to score more goals, play tighter defensively against the top players.
"At the end of the day the overall team effort should be to try and win hockey games and don't lose two in a row."
Seems simple, right?
It rarely is against the Islanders, though. They can be among the league's stingiest on a good night. The Flames are very familiar with one-goal decisions but need to improve their 10-7-7 record in that scenario. They'll need scoring from all-star Nazem Kadri, the team's most improved player Dillon Dube, and leaders like Mikael Backlund, Jonathan Huberdeau and Elias Lindholm.
The New York Islanders have played some stinkers on the road, and are coming off an abysmal 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. The Flames, meanwhile, have been idle since Tuesday night.
“We get to get right back at it tomorrow, salvage the trip,” All-Star Brock Nelson said via NYIHockeyNow.com. "We want to come out with a better performance, a better effort in Calgary, and try to win a hockey game.”
“It’s an opportunity to go .500 on the road trip,” head coach Lane Lambert said. “Respectable road trip, and it’s a big game.”
Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal against Jacob Markstrom.
This will be Varlamov's first game since leaving with a lower-body injury eight games ago.
Calgary Flames projected lineup
Dillon Dube – Elias Lindholm – Tyler Toffoli
Milan Lucic – Nazem Kadri – Jonathan Huberdeau
Andrew Mangiapane – Mikael Backlund – Blake Coleman
Adam Ruzicka – Radim Zohorna – Trevor Lewis
Noah Hanifin – Rasmus Andersson
MacKenzie Weegar – Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov – Michael Stone
New York Islanders projected lineup
Josh Bailey – Mat Barzal – Casey Cizikas
Anders Lee – Brock Nelson – Hudson Fasching
Zach Parise – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Anthony Beauvillier
Matt Martin – Aatu Räty – Cal Clutterbuck
Parker Wotherspoon – Ryan Pulock
Alexander Romanov – Noah Dobson
Sebastian Aho – Scott Mayfield