Flames-Blue Jackets Preview
Calgary Flames goaltenders have been mostly up to the task while facing plenty of shots.
It’s not clear who the Flames will start in goal Friday night when they look for a third straight win on the road as they meet the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Calgary (3-2-0) is allowing 36.6 shots per game for one of the league’s highest marks. Flames goalies Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo have had to come through under those circumstances with their club having been outshot four times – three times by at least 14 shots.
"We knew if we want to have success with this team I think we need good goaltending, I think we probably don’t have the experience up front and sometimes you gotta come up with the save and keep them in the game," Hiller said. "I think, yeah, we’ve had pretty good goaltending so far and yeah, I think we get along well and it’s nice to kind of push each other a little bit but it’s always on a friendly basis."
Hiller was spectacular Wednesday with 49 saves to match the second-highest total of his career in a 2-1 overtime win at Chicago. Mikael Backlund scored the winner for the Flames, who killed off six of seven power plays.
”We played with fire,” coach Bob Hartley said. ”Hills gave us an unbelievable game and our penalty killing I think was the story with Jonas’ performance.”
Hiller earned his first Calgary win while Ramo is 2-0-0 with a 1.92 goals-against average in two starts. Ramo has never faced the Blue Jackets (2-1-0) while Hiller is 4-0-2 with a 2.02 GAA in his last seven starts against them.
The Flames will look for a better start after getting outshot 18-2 in the first period by the Blackhawks.
Columbus, which is averaging 33.0 shots, is probably also seeking a better effort the moment the puck drops.
The Blue Jackets were outshot 14-8 and outscored 2-0 in the first period of Tuesday’s 4-2 home defeat to Dallas. Columbus was bidding for the first 3-0-0 start in club history.
”They were hungry. They came out and put us on our heels,” coach Todd Richards said. ”Then it came down to battles and with their speed they won most of them.”
Ryan Johansen scored his first two goals of the season to tie the game in the second period. Johansen has a team-high five points, though he missed training camp due to a contract holdout.
"We’re going to get to a point where he’s just going to be one of the guys and playing, he’s up to game speed," Richards said. "But he’s getting better."
Cam Atkinson expects to be available after missing practice Wednesday. Atkinson scored his three goals in the Blue Jackets’ consecutive wins to start the season.
Richards indicated that he will give backup Curtis McElhinney – a former Flames goalie – his first 2014-15 start against Calgary or in Ottawa on Saturday.
McElhinney has faced the Flames once while Sergei Bobrovsky, who has a 2.01 GAA on the season, is 2-1-2 with a 2.34 GAA against them.
Calgary winger Lance Bouma is day to day with a facial injury.