Preview: Panthers at Flames
The Calgary Flames have reached 60 points this season in the second-least amount of games in franchise history and look to continue adding to their impressive story when they host the Florida Panthers on Friday night. The only Calgary team to get to 60 points in fewer games was the 1988-89 Stanley Cup champion (41) and the Flames made it to 60 in 45 contests after outlasting Colorado 5-3 on Wednesday.
“We were a little worried about it, coming off the trip,” Calgary coach Bill Peters told reporters after his team won its third straight and earned a point for the seventh time in eight games (6-1-1). “That first game home is usually a little bit tough. But we found a way to grind it out.” Right wing Johnny Gaudreau boasts seven goals and eight assists during a six-game point streak going into the matchup against the Panthers, who are in dire need of a victory while sitting 10 points out of playoff position entering Friday. Florida missed a golden chance Thursday when it surrendered a goal to Connor McDavid with 8 seconds left in regulation and went on to suffer a 4-3 setback in a shootout at Edmonton, losing for the fourth straight game (0-2-2). Left wing Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers with 46 points, but has been kept off the scoresheet in two straight and three of the last five games, and Florida is 1-of-13 on the power play the past five contests.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FS Florida, Sportsnet West (Calgary)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (17-17-8): Four of the top five scorers were blanked in the loss at Edmonton, including captain Aleksander Barkov (four points, last four games), and Evgenii Dadonov (two points, eight contests). Left wing Mike Hoffman had an assist against the Oilers to push his season total to 39 points and registered five of his team-leading 20 goals in the past nine contests. Rookie Henrik Borgstrom,a 2016 first-round pick, recorded his fourth goal Thursday in 12 games since being recalled while fellow forward Denis Malgin scored for the third time in seven games.
ABOUT THE FLAMES (28-13-4): Gaudreau leads the lethal top trio with team highs of 26 goals and 66 points while linemates Sean Monahan (23, 54) and Elias Lindholm (21, 51) have combined for 21 points in the past six contests. Matthew Tkachuk scored Wednesday to give Calgary four players with 20 goals through 45 games for the second time in its history, matching the 1987-88 squad (Joe Mullen, Mike Bullard, Hakan Loob, Joe Nieuwendyk). Defenseman Mark Giordano leads the league with a plus-31 rating and boasts seven of his career high-matching 37 assists in the last six contests.
1. Florida G Roberto Luongo, who was rested Thursday, has 27 career wins against the Flames - second only to Edmonton (28).
2. Calgary G David Rittich (16-4-3, .921 save percentage) has won four straight games, despite allowing 13 goals.
3. The Flames have won four of the last five meetings, but the Panthers won the last matchup in Calgary 6-3 in February.
PREDICTION: Flames 4, Panthers 2