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Flames hope to keep the goals coming vs. Lightning

Sportsnaut
Mar 10, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (55) collides with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn (17) during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

It took a tough stretch of six games, but the Calgary Flames’ offense finally found itself Monday night at home against the Los Angeles Kings in a six-goal outburst.

The Western Conference club will need that type of outing Thursday night when it embarks on a season-long six-game road trip that starts on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The Flames will face the Tampa Bay Lightning, with both teams owning two-game winning streaks.

Luckily for Calgary, left winger Jonathan Huberdeau — whose career for the Pacific Division team has started slowly and seen him slide from line to line — scored the first goal of the game while playing with his new linemates.

A 613-point producer for the Florida Panthers across 10 seasons, Huberdeau was slotted onto the third line against the Kings beside Mikael Backlund and Trevor Lewis.

In the opening frame, he wheeled around the top of the right circle, took a pass in the slot from Rasmus Andersson and put home just his second marker so far.

“To get a goal, it’s been a while,” said Huberdeau, who hit the net for the 200th career time by beating Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. “It’s a good team win. That’s all that matters.”

When asked earlier Monday at morning skate why Huberdeau moved down to the third line, Calgary coach Darryl Sutter replied, “Because we’ve slotted him everywhere else and it hasn’t worked.”

The Flames snapped a seven-game winless streak (0-5-2) on Saturday in a 3-2 home win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Notching goals had been the problem: They had scored three or fewer in six consecutive games until producing six markers against Los Angeles.

On Tuesday night, the Lightning met up with their fifth Western Conference opponent — the Dallas Stars.

In a back-and-forth game, the home side overcame an uncharacteristic giveaway by Mikhail Sergachev that led to a short-handed goal. Then Alex Killorn won it by taking advantage of Steven Stamkos’ 500th NHL assist on a breakout pass, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to beat Dallas by a 5-4 margin.

With his team ahead 4-3 and on a late power play, Sergachev lost control of the puck while skating through his defensive end. Dallas’ Radek Faksa took it and rifled in his first goal of the season to create the overtime session.

Sergachev had the primary assist on the play, taking a feed from Stamkos and leading a two-on-one rush that Killorn put away after getting the dish from Sergachev — a defenseman who registered four points in the first period of Sunday’s 6-3 home win over the Washington Capitals.

Coach Jon Cooper liked the business-like approach of his 24-year-old rear guardsman and his teammates after the miscue that led to Faksa’s shorty.

“Listen, nobody felt as bad as Sergy did,” Cooper said. “Sergy was, like, a little embarrassed. But nobody cared. It was like, ‘Hey, it’s no big deal, there’s a lot of power play left.’ I thought that was great and carried us through. … Everything there, the whole attitude, was outstanding by the guys.”

The Lightning, who are 3-2-0 against the Western Conference, have won five of the past seven meetings between the clubs dating to 2018. That includes last season’s 4-1 win in Tampa Bay on Jan. 6.

–Field Level Media