Preview: Flames at Ducks
The balance of power has shifted in the Pacific Division and there is no better example than the matchup between the visiting Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night. The Flames, who already have clinched the division title and the top seed in the Western Conference, will go for their fourth consecutive win when they face the Ducks.
Calgary rolled to a 6-1 rout of Anaheim to kick off the current winning streak and opened its three-game California road trip with a 5-3 win at San Jose that clinched the best record in the West. "This is the time of year where you really ramp it up for playoffs, so for us we want to be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs," forward Mark Jankowski said. The Ducks had won five consecutive Pacific titles before finishing second last season and owned a 25-game home winning streak over the Flames from 2004-17, but they have muddled through a dismal season and own the second-worst record in the conference. Anaheim's struggling offense showed some life in a 2-1-1 road trip, scoring five goals in each of the two victories.
TV: 10:30 ET, Sportsnet West (Calgary) FS West (Anaheim)
ABOUT THE FLAMES (50-23-7): Calgary rested six regulars but did not miss a beat in steamrolling Los Angeles 7-2 on Monday night to reach 50 wins for the second time in franchise history. Derek Ryan scored twice and James Neal, in his sixth game since sitting out more than a month, scored one goal and set up another to extend his point streak to three games. "This is the best time of the year," Neal said. "The team has been unbelievable all year. Proud of the way our guys have played. We're going to have a great playoff run, so I'm excited for that."
ABOUT THE DUCKS (33-37-10): Rickard Rakell has been among the major offensive disappointments for Anaheim, but he is closing the season on a high note with seven goals in five games after registering a natural hat trick in Saturday's 5-1 rout of Edmonton. "It's not just the goal scoring," linemate Jakob Silfverberg of Rakell. "He's more involved all over the ice. He has the puck a lot, and that's when he's at his best. He's been getting some bounces and putting some nice ones in." Rakell needs two more goals to reach 20 for the fourth straight season.
1. Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau has points in four straight games and needs three more to reach 100 for the first time.
2. Ducks rookie F Troy Terry could miss three months with broken leg sustained when blocking a shot in Calgary.
3. Flames F Sam Bennett was knocked out of Monday's game but coach Bill Peters said he will play in one of the last two games.
PREDICTION: Flames 4, Ducks 3