Flames look to extinguish 24-game skid in Anaheim
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Calgary Flames will try to end one of the most onerous streaks in NHL history Tuesday night when they meet the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center.
The Flames have not won in Anaheim during the regular season since Jan. 19, 2004 — a span of 24 games. The Ducks’ 4-1 win in November enabled them to break the NHL record of 23 successive victories on home ice against one opponent.
The Philadelphia Flyers established that standard against the Pittsburgh Penguins between 1980 and 1987 at the now-demolished Spectrum.
“It’s going to be ramped up,” Flames right winger Kris Versteeg said about Tuesday night’s game. “We know how good they are at home, and we expect to be ready.”
But Calgary faces a greater imperative than obliterating unpleasant history: trying to maneuver into the best position possible before the playoffs start.
“It’s not easy to get into the playoffs,” Flames center Matt Stajan told the Calgary Herald. “Trust me, I’ve played a long time so it’s rewarding when you get there. But at the same time, there’s one ultimate goal and we’ve now put ourselves in to a position to go after it. I don’t think you want to be satisfied just to get there.”
With 92 points, Calgary holds the second Western Conference wild-card position, one point ahead of the Nashville Predators. Tuesday night starts a three-game road trip in which the Flames will play the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night before ending the regular season Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks.
The Ducks enter the Tuesday game holding first place in the Pacific Division by two points over the Edmonton Oilers and by four over San Jose. Edmonton visits the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, the same night San Jose plays host to the Vancouver Canucks.
A 4-3 win against the Flames in Calgary on Sunday night enabled Anaheim to regain its exclusive hold on the division lead while breaking a two-game losing streak. Both defeats come in overtime on the road.
“We felt pretty down because we felt we gave two points away on the trip,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register. “Normally if you’d sit and say you had a four-game trip and you got six out of eight points, you’d be kicking your heels down the road. That’s not the case right now. There’s still work to do for us but we’re going to focus on what we can control. If we look after our business, we think that we’ll put ourselves in a great position.”
But the Ducks might have to play without two of their leading defensemen, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, who missed Sunday night’s game because of upper-body injuries. A deflected shot hit Vatanen during Saturday night’s overtime loss in Edmonton. Lindholm, meanwhile, aggravated a previous injury.
Lindholm’s absence would be more crucial, since he and Josh Manson formed the team’s most effective defensive pairing this season. Lindholm leads the Ducks with a plus-14 rating, followed by Manson at plus-12.
Clayton Stoner finished his conditioning assignment with the Ducks’ AHL team in San Diego and might be activated from injured reserve for Tuesday night’s game if neither Lindholm nor Vatanen is available. Stoner, who underwent abdominal surgery in December, had not played for Anaheim since Nov. 15.