Every once in a while you get a game like Thursday night. In what was a wild affair, the Calgary Flames somehow came away with a 6-5 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks. The good news was the end result, because the Flames needed it. On the flip side, to struggle the way Calgary did for most of the night is not necessarily a good thing. The Flames got the two points but they’ll have to be a whole lot better tonight when they pay a visit to the Arizona Coyotes (7 pm, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960).
Calgary Flames 25-25-3, 6th Pacific Division
The most pressing concern is the status of Flames goaltender Karri Ramo after leaving Thursday’s game with an apparently lower body injury. Late in the third period, Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi was tripped by Giordano which sent the opposing player crashing into Ramo. Ramo’s left leg jammed on the post and he stayed down on the ice for a little bit before being assisted to the locker room. While we don’t know the severity of his injury, all indications point towards Ramo being out for an extended period of time. It’s a potential big loss for Calgary as Ramo has given the team number one quality goaltending since the beginning of December. In response to Ramo’s injury, the Flames have recalled Joni Ortio from Stockton of the American League.
Jonas Hiller came in cold and got the job done in a very tough situation and he’ll get the start in net tonight. Facing a full 5-on-3 powerplay for San Jose with three minutes remaining in the third period, Hiller stood up and stopped all seven shots fired his way for the rest of regulation time and into overtime. This will actually be Hiller’s third start in four games, as he had won back-to-back games against Vancouver and Toronto prior to Thursday. This season Hiller sits 8-5-1 with a 2.98 goals against average and an 0.895 save percentage.
Ramo’s injury wasn’t the only one suffered by the Flames last night. The team also lost David Jones with an apparent lower body injury in the first period. Jones won’t play tonight and will be replaced by Jooris in the lineup; the latter was a healthy scratch in San Jose. Otherwise, it sounds like Calgary will look very much the same as they did Thursday against the Sharks which means Brandon Bollig and Jakub Nakladal will sit tonight as healthy scratches.
Thursday’s game in San Jose was an impressive one for Backlund. Not only did Backlund extend his goal scoring streak to three games, but he also lead all Calgary forwards with 21:54 of ice time. Backlund has been the team’s most complete centre this season and he’s been rewarded offensively of late. His left winger was pretty darn good in San Jose, too. Bennett opened the scoring in the first period and finished with three points against the Sharks; he was the team’s most dangerous offensive player all night long. Bennett’s 15 goals are fifth most in the league among rookies trailing only Artemi Panarin, Dylan Larkin, Jack Eichel, and Sam Reinhart.
Arizona Coyotes 24-23-6, 5th Pacific Division
It has been a miserable stretch of late for the Coyotes and that stretch has seen them fall six points out of a Pacific Division playoff spot. Arizona enters tonight riding a five game losing skid and has gone 2-8-1 in their 11 games since a 4-0-1 start to the month of January. For many, the Coyotes are falling back down to earth after a surprising start to the season. The biggest question now is whether Head Coach Dave Tippet can get this team back on track to keep them in the playoff mix down the stretch. Arizona liked the way they played two nights ago in a 2-1 loss to Vancouver, so we’ll see if they can carry that over on home ice tonight.
Even though things have slowed down a little over the last few months, the Coyotes still boast two of the most productive rookies in the league. Playing on the same line, Domi and Duclair sit fourth and seventh in rookie scoring, respectively. Along with Boedker, Domi has been Arizona’s most productive forward; they both have 13 goals and 35 points this season. Despite not getting an invite to the All Star Game, Ekman-Larsson’s All Star caliber continues; he enters tonight leading the Coyotes with 38 points. With 38 points, Ekman-Larsson is sixth in league scoring among defencemen.
Much like the Coyotes have come back down to earth over the last few weeks, so too has goaltender Louis Domingue. He was the story during Arizona’s impressive December and solid start to January, but has struggled over his last nine starts. In that stretch, Domingue has gone 2-5-2 with an underwhelming 0.894 save percentage. The 23-year-old rookie will likely make his 19th start of the season tonight; Domingue sits 9-7-4 with a 2.61 goals against average and a 0.915 save percentage.