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Fortified Flames on fire as Sabres swing through

Mar 6, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Calle Jarnkrok (19) scores a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Jarnrok was traded to Calgary. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames are living up to their moniker.

Sitting atop the Pacific Division, the Flames are 17-3-1 in their past 21 games and 15-1-1 in their past 17 home games — a run they look to maintain when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

Calgary is coming off a 6-3 win against the visiting New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, a triumph that came after the acquisition of forward Calle Jarnkrok from the Seattle Kraken less than two hours before puck drop. It’s the latest addition for the Flames, who also acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 14.

“It’s big. It gives us confidence,” Flames forward Milan Lucic said. “It gives us belief in ourselves because we’ve got belief from up top and (general manager Brad Treliving) is doing what he can do to make the team better here. Now it’s up to us on the ice to keep doing what we’ve been doing here. …

“It’s an exciting time of year. Brad and his team are doing whatever they can to make us better for hopefully a long run in the playoffs.”

The Flames’ offense has delivered, scoring at least three goals in nine of the team’s past 10 games. Calgary is averaging 3.47 goals per game, which ranks sixth in the NHL.

Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane joined teammate Elias Lindholm in the 30-goal club with a tally on Wednesday. Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau aren’t too far behind, with 28 and 27 goals, respectively.

The versatile Jarnkrok, who can play any of the three forward positions, had a top-six role with the Kraken but likely will slot into a third-line role on a deeper Calgary squad.

“Super excited,” he said. “I’ve been watching a lot of games this year when Calgary’s been playing. Played against them a couple times. They’re a very good team, very hard to play against.”

The Sabres will be looking to bounce back after a 6-1 road loss at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. It was the opener of a three-game road trip for Buffalo, which entered the game coming off consecutive wins against the Vegas Golden Knights and Toronto Maple Leafs.

“We just didn’t win any battles from the start,” Sabres forward Victor Olofsson said of the Edmonton game. “Made the game really hard on ourselves. … We’ve just got to get pucks deep and win our battles. Obviously we didn’t do that.”

Buffalo has won just once in the second game of back-to-back sets this season, going 1-6-4 thus far.

“(It’s) an extremely tough building (in Calgary) and we’re coming after playing a game in a back-to-back. They’re rested,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “But clearly from the side of experience that you have to learn from, there was no question … we need to elevate. We couldn’t. …

“We need a better effort (against the Flames), no question, and it’s a bigger challenge.”

Dustin Tokarski is expected to get the start in goal for Buffalo on Friday after Craig Anderson allowed six goals on 36 shots at Edmonton.

–Field Level Media