Flames catch fire, try to burn Flyers
PHILADELPHIA — When the Calgary Flames visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night, the game will feature teams heading in opposite directions.
The Flames (10-12-1) are riding the strong play of goaltender Chad Johnson and have won three of their last four games in the midst of a six-game trip.
“The guys are just doing a good job and I'm getting results,” Johnson said Friday after making 35 saves in a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins. “When you get results, your game gets some attention. When you lose, people always find things to look at.
“But I've felt great all year. That's my game. Simple. In position. Try to make it look easy and not scramble too much there and give the team confidence and make the saves I'm supposed to.”
Johnson is 5-1 with a 1.17 goals against average in his last six games and is 7-3-1 on the season.
“I just think he's been fantastic,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. “He's making the first save, which you need, and he's giving us great goaltending there, and then our guys are limiting those second chances, and it's a good combination right now.”
The Flyers (9-10-3) have lost three of four and have played a loose defensive game in front of goaltender Steve Mason, who saw his record drop to 5-8-3 and his save percentage dwindle to .892 in Friday's 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.
Mason's save percentage is third-worst among NHL goalies with 12 or more starts.
“You know, we made a couple costly mistakes where guys were left alone out front and we have to clean those up because it cost us the game,” Mason said after stopping 20 of 23 shots Friday. “It's definitely something we need to focus on a little bit.”
The Flyers had 78 shots (to 39 for the Rangers) in their loss on Friday but are looking for more offense from captain Claude Giroux, who was 16-for-24 in faceoffs on Friday but has gone eight games without a goal.
Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau grew up right outside of Philadelphia in southern New Jersey, but will miss the Flames' only trip to Philadelphia because of a broken finger.
Former Flyer Kris Versteeg, day-to-day with a groin injury, might also miss the game.
The Flames are 7-0-1 when leading after two periods.
The Flyers have had 40 or more shots in a game five times this season and are 3-2 in those games, with two wins coming in a shootout and one in overtime.
Flames forward Mark Jankowski was called up from Stockton of the American Hockey League on Friday but has not yet made his NHL debut.
Flyers rookie forward Travis Konecny scored points with his teammates when he fought Rangers forward Brandon Pirri after teammate Brandon Manning was checked hard into the boards.
“Yeah, we talked about team toughness and making sure we're sticking up for each other,” Konecny said of his first NHL fight. “When a guy gets hit like that, I was the one in position to do something about it and I did what I had to.”
Manning did not finish Friday's game and is questionable for Sunday night's game.