Flames on a roll going into start of homestand vs. Kings
CALGARY, Alberta — Johnny Gaudreau is heating up at the right time for the Calgary Flames.
The 23-year-old left winger had two goals and an assist on Sunday as the Flames skated to a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It was a nice road trip and hopefully we can keep this thing going because I know how important this last month and a half is here,” Gaudreau told reporters after Sunday’s win, which was Calgary’s fourth straight on the road. “I think we can step up pretty big like we did on this road trip here and help our team get in the playoffs.”
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The Flames (33-26-4) will kick off a four-game homestand on Tuesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome when they face the Los Angeles Kings (30-27-5), who lost 5-4 in overtime on the road to the Minnesota Wild on Monday.
Playing on a line with center Sean Monahan and right winger Micheal Ferland, Gaudreau has six assists to go with two goals in his past four games.
“I know I’ve been struggling trying to find the net throughout the season here,” said Gaudreau, who was named the NHL’s third start of the week on Monday. “I felt like I played a little bit more my game throughout the road trip, played it simple, just made smart little plays. I’ve got some nice chemistry with Ferly and Mony there, too.”
Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said Gaudreau has been doing a good job lately of generating quality scoring opportunities.
“He’s feeling very confident now, especially coming off that four-assist performance,” said Gulutzan, referring to Gaudreau’s offensive outburst that led Calgary to a 6-5 overtime win in Nashville over the Predators last Tuesday. “We need him. This is the time you need your big players coming down the stretch.”
The Kings will be looking to bounce back after Wild center Mikael Granlund scored 12 seconds into OT on Monday.
“We had a couple breakdowns and Quickie had some huge saves for us,” said Kings center Nick Shore, referring to goalie Jonathan Quick’s 30-save performance. “We’re just going to have to get after it tomorrow.”
Tuesday’s game will be the second of five matchups between the Flames and Kings this season. The last time they met was Nov. 5 at Staples Center in L.A. when goalie Peter Budaj made 24 saves to backstop the Kings to a 5-0 win.
Budaj was subsequently traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday in a deal that brought back fellow netminder Ben Bishop to the Kings.
Quick made his second straight start for the Kings on Monday after returning to the lineup following a lengthy absence due to a groin injury.
“It’s a tough turnaround for him after an emotional first game for him,” L.A. coach Darryl Sutter told reporters while hinting that Bishop could get his first start for the Kings against the Flames. “Hey, we’ve got to make sure that guy who’s played two in a row is getting his proper rest and taking care of his body.”
Currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, the Kings will also face the Flames in Calgary on March 19 and 29 before the teams wrap up their season series on April 6 in L.A. at Staples Center.