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Tough-at-home Flames face road-challenged Devils

Sportsnaut
Mar 12, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (23) during the face off against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a rare shutout defeat, the rested Calgary Flames will look to rebound when they host the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.

A 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday in Denver marked the first time Calgary was held off the scoreboard this season. Though the Flames held a 46-32 advantage in shots, Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper was stellar in keeping the puck out of his net.

While Calgary didn’t necessarily look like a tired team Sunday, it was perhaps telling that the Flames were shut out in the final game of a grueling stretch of five games in seven days. The Flames still managed a 3-2-0 record over that run, including a shutout victory of their own, 3-0 over the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

Against Colorado, however, “We just needed that little extra oomph … and couldn’t seem to find it there,” Calgary forward Trevor Lewis said. “It’s a lot of games, but we kept it close there. It was 1-0 going into the third (period) and we had a power play and couldn’t capitalize on it.”

The Flames subsequently received two full days of rest for the first time in March before continuing a schedule that will remain congested for the rest of the regular season. One silver lining is that eight of Calgary’s next nine games are on home ice. Since Jan. 17, the Flames lead the NHL in home points (29) and home wins (14-1-1).

On the flip side, New Jersey has the fewest road points (18) of any team in the NHL this season. After a 3-1-0 homestand, the Devils began a three-game Western Canada road trip with a 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

The Devils were trailing only 4-3 when they received a four-minute power play sandwiched around the second intermission. However, not only did the Devils not score the equalizer with the man advantage, but they fell into a deeper hole when the Canucks’ Bo Horvat scored a short-handed goal 1:24 into the third period.

“I thought we had real good looks the first two minutes of (the power play),” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “Just didn’t hit the mark. (Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko) made a couple saves. Maybe a little bit better around the net. The opportunities were there, we just didn’t capitalize on them.”

New Jersey was hampered by lineup absences both before and during the game. Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler didn’t play due to a non-COVID illness and is questionable for Wednesday. Pavel Zacha left during the first period due to an upper-body injury, and Ruff said Zacha was doubtful to face Calgary.

The goaltending situation is also unclear heading into the second half of the back-to-back set, since both of New Jersey’s goalies saw action on Tuesday.

Nico Daws started against the Canucks but was pulled midway through the game after allowing four goals on 21 shots. Jon Gillies saved eight of the 10 shots he faced in a relief outing, and he now may no longer be penciled in to start against Calgary.

Jacob Markstrom is expected to return to the Flames’ net after getting a night off against Colorado. Markstrom has been outstanding this season, producing a 28-11-6 record, a 2.07 goals against average and a .928 save percentage.

The Flames defeated the Devils in the teams’ first meeting of the season, a 5-3 result on Oct. 26 in Newark. Calgary has won its past seven matchups against the Devils and is 13-2-0 against New Jersey dating back to the 2011-12 season.

–Field Level Media