Penalty-plagued Flames meet up-and-down Canadiens

Fantasy hockey

After a pair of penalty-filled losses, the Calgary Flames are looking for a much more disciplined performance when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

The Flames have been whistled 14 penalties and 30 total penalty minutes in their last two games – a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday and a 5-4 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Though Calgary’s penalty-kill unit was a perfect 7-for-7 against Columbus, the Maple Leafs scored three times on their six power-play chances on Saturday. That included Mitch Marner’s overtime winner, as Jonathan Huberdeau was called for high-sticking just three seconds into the extra period.

“A lot of penalties killed us a little bit. … We didn’t play bad 5 on 5, but I think when you give that team a lot of power plays, obviously they’re going to capitalize on them,” Huberdeau said.

The power plays helped Toronto come back from three separate one-goal deficits, and the Flames didn’t get many chances to add to their leads. The Flames’ 26 shots on Saturday were their third-lowest total of the season, and five of their six lowest shot totals have come in Calgary’s last eight games.

This recent lack of opportunities adds a new wrinkle to Calgary’s season-long efficiency problems. The Flames are among the NHL leaders in total shots, but also near the bottom of the league in shooting percentage.

With losses in the first two stops on their three-game road trip, the Flames will try to salvage a victory in Montreal, where the Canadiens have lost their last three games on home ice.

The Canadiens’ latest setback was a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. The Kings scored two goals within a 19-second span in the first period, and then held their lead despite a pair of goals from Montreal’s Mike Hoffman and Cole Caufield late in the third frame.

With only 22 shots in the game, it took the Canadiens a while to finally figure out the Kings’ tough defensive structure.

“They sit back and wait for you to dump the puck, and they’ve got a guy waiting for it,” Caufield said. “So, it’s hard to get pucks back with that. It’s not really fun hockey, in my opinion, but you’ve got to find ways to beat it. And there’s some times where we did, but it’s obviously a tough thing to crack.”

The Canadiens were also missing several players to injury. Sean Monahan, David Savard, and Mike Matheson are all questionable for Monday after being out of the lineup against the Kings.

Jonathan Drouin is also questionable, but the forward has returned to skating during practice and is at least nearing a return. An upper-body injury has sidelined Drouin for Montreal’s last 12 games.

Jake Allen stopped 31 of 34 shots on Saturday and is the Canadiens’ probable starter in net.

Dan Vladar has started four of Calgary’s last five games, and seems to have become the first-choice goaltender ahead of the struggling Jacob Markstrom.

The Canadiens recorded a 2-1 victory at Calgary on Dec. 1 in the first meeting of the season between the teams.

–Field Level Media

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