Flames Game Day
Game Day: Vegas Odds Always Against Flames
The Calgary Flames look to beat the odds in Vegas for the first time, with their NHL playoff lives still hanging in the balance.
Vegas can be cruel. It certainly has been to the Calgary Flames (30-24-14).
Still winless in eight previous attempts against the Vegas Golden Knights (42-20-6) at T-Mobile Arena, the Flames got as close as they ever have been to escaping with two points in their last visit.
They played really strong in the first and second periods but gave up a pair of goals in the third and then a quick one in overtime to watch Jack Eichel and the Golden Knights complete a frustrating comeback.
"The first 10 minutes is a game in itself in this building. It's pretty loud and pretty rowdy. We just want to simplify early and hopefully settle them down a little bit, and of course scoring the first goal would be a huge help," said Calgary Flames centre Nazem Kadri on Thursday before the contest.
"I think those are the two most important parts of the game — the start and the finish. It's important to get off to a good start. And when good teams are trailing, they're going to have a push at some point, so it's just about that that poise and composure and sustaining that."
The Calgary Flames collapsed after their best effort to date over the first 40 minutes in their kryptonite rink. But if ever there was a time for a desperate 60 minutes, this is it.
Five points out of a post-season spot with 14 games to go before the start of the NHL playoffs, the Flames can't afford many (maybe any) losses. For the record, colleague Craig Ellingson predicted this one as regulation loss.
"I think we've got to treat every game like it's our last and we've got to win," said Calgary Flames winger Tyler Toffoli, who faces his former Los Angeles Kings teammate Jonathan Quick tonight after the goaltender was dealt to the Knights via the Columbus Blue Jackets at the NHL trade deadline. "We've got to win every single game, so we've got to be ready to go tonight and start from here."
The Calgary Flames could see Adam Ruzicka draw back in at centre, with either Milan Lucic or Trevor Lewis sitting out. Other than that, the lines should remain intact. But it won't be an easy game against one of the hottest goalies and teams in the Western Conference, which is loaded with depth at every position and features Phil Kessel on the fourth line.
Jacob Markstrom is expected to make his eighth straight start tonight.
Calgary Flames projected lineup
Jakob Pelletier — Elias Lindholm — Tyler Toffoli
Jonathan Huberdeau — Nazem Kadri — Dillon Dube
Andrew Mangiapane — Mikael Backlund — Blake Coleman
Milan Lucic — Adam Ruzicka — Walker Duehr
MacKenzie Weegar — Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin — Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov — Troy Stecher
Golden Knights projected lineup
Ivan Barbashev — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Pavel Dorofeyev
Brett Howden — Chandler Stephenson — Michael Amadio
Paul Cotter — Teddy Blueger — Phil Kessel
Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague — Zach Whitecloud