Flames hope to stay hot versus Stars

CALGARY, Alberta — The Calgary Flames believe in themselves and for good reason as they are tied for the top spot in the Pacific Division through 29 games.

Calgary (14-9-1) has won four of their past five games as they head into an encounter against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.

“We like a lot of the things we’re doing. I think we can always improve and we’re always going over things we can do better,” Calgary’s captain Marc Giordano told Flames TV after Tuesday’s practice.

“The last couple of days (of practice) there’s been a lot of work done on our forecheck and moving the puck as defensemen to our forwards.

“We want to play with confidence. We think we’re a good team but we just need to keep bringing the same game every night. The biggest thing in this league is consistency. We need to bring it every night.”

The Stars (12-10-3) are fifth in the Central Division after a 1-0 overtime loss in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Consistency has eluded Calgary’s No. 1 goaltender Mike Smith this season. Through 14 games, Smith’s recorded a poor 3.29 goals-against average and .883 save percentage. The rough start has left the 36-year-old battling to keep his starting job ahead of David Rittich, who has a 2.04 GAA through 12 contests.

Smith got the net against his former team Sunday and was solid in a 6-1 victory over the Coyotes in Arizona. He came off the ice Tuesday and spoke positively for the first time in a long time.

“You understand it’s just one game,” Smith told Flames TV. “It’s a definitely a work in progress. Every day you come to the rink and want to get better and find some consistencies in your game.

“Last game was definitely a better game for myself but the team played outstanding in front of me. It definitely was a confidence builder and I want to just come to the rink today and keep it going.”

The Stars have lost four straight on the road (0-3-1).

Dallas has been going with No. 2 goalie Anton Khudobin because Ben Bishop has been out for a week after suffering a muscle strain in New York last week. Bishop could be back in the net Saturday in Vancouver.

It’s possible the Stars will give Landon Bow his first NHL start in Calgary on Wednesday. The 23-year-old was called up from the American Hockey League when Bishop was hurt.

Khudobin started all four games in Bishop’s place and has allowed 13 goals in that time. He played back-to-back last Friday and Saturday.

Stars head coach Jim Montgomery was non-committal before Tuesday’s game, however.

“We haven’t thought that far ahead,” he told Sportsday. “Dobby said that it was the first time he played back-to-back in four years and he felt great. I thought he was actually better in the second game than he was the first. We’ll see how he goes tonight and make a decision tomorrow.”

The Flames made a minor trade Tuesday. They acquired defensemen Andrew Nielsen, who hails from nearby Red Deer, Alberta, from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Morgan Klimchuk. Both players have been toiling in the American Hockey League this season.