The Anaheim Ducks have hit a bump in their push for the top spot in the Western Conference. They’ll look to avoid yet another costly defeat when they face a Calgary Flames team that’s surged into the thick of the playoff race.
The Ducks try to avoid a third straight loss Wednesday night when they visit the Flames, who stormed back to earn an improbable point their last time out.
Anaheim (42-19-7) has dropped two straight in regulation, failing to take full advantage of a six-game regulation losing streak by Nashville, which ended that skid Monday to pull even with the Ducks atop the West. Anaheim had won four in a row and seven of eight before falling to Pittsburgh on Friday and Vancouver on Monday.
The Ducks had scored at least three goals in six of their previous seven victories before totaling three against the Penguins and Canucks.
Anaheim was 26-0-7 in games decided by one goal prior to the 2-1 loss to Vancouver. It held a 30-16 shot advantage after outshooting Pittsburgh 29-21.
"Every game is going to be a one-goal, playoff-style game," center Nate Thompson said. "There won’t be a lot of room out there. That’s how it’s going to be down the stretch and in playoffs. These are the games we want to play in. These games still mean a lot, no matter where we are in the division. We still want to play our best every night and get momentum down the stretch. That’s the most important thing."
Though the Ducks own the top road record in the NHL at 20-9-4, they’d certainly like to beat out the Predators for home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs, given Nashville’s 26-7-1 home mark that’s tops in the West.
"We just need to move on," Thompson said. "I like our chances if we play like that every game."
Few would have liked Calgary’s chances of earning points against Ottawa on Sunday when it entered the third period trailing 4-0, but the Flames stormed back with four goals before falling 5-4 in a shootout.
The Flames, who have scored an NHL-high 93 goals after the second intermission, have gone 3-0-1 in their last four to complete a 4-2-1 road trip.
”We were all really excited when we scored the fourth one,” said center Mikael Backlund, who got the third goal to give him two and three assists in a five-game point streak. ”We always want the two points and we’re disappointed, but at the same time we made a huge comeback and we’ll bring that with us.”
The Flames (36-25-5) play seven of the next eight at home. Appearing on the verge of fading from the race after a 1-3-1 stretch, Calgary’s fast finish to the trip has it just ahead of Los Angeles and San Jose for the third postseason berth in the Pacific Division, and three points behind Vancouver for the second. It’s also in the thick of the wild-card race.
The Flames will be looking for a better result than they got in their last home game – a 6-3 loss to Anaheim on Feb. 20 in which the Ducks scored five times in the third period. It was Anaheim’s second straight victory over Calgary by that score and gave it three wins in a row in the season series since the Flames took the opener 4-3 in a shootout at home Nov. 18.
The Flames’ Jiri Hudler recorded two assists and a shootout goal Sunday, and had four goals and four assists in four games to earn NHL first star of the week honors.