Flames seek more points vs. Sharks

CALGARY, Alberta — Having recorded points in their past four games, the Calgary Flames hope to keep things rolling when the host the San Jose Sharks at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.

Despite a strong start against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, the Flames (16-12-3) ultimately lost 2-1 in a shootout to their Western Conference rivals at the Xcel Energy Center.

“We put ourselves in a good spot against a stingy team,” said Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan, whose team outshot the Wild 10-4 in the first period and 27-22 overall. “It was one of our better games all year and we’ve just got to continue to do that. Our game’s trending in the right direction.”

Center Sam Bennett, who has recorded three goals and five assists in his past eight games, said the Flames are hitting their stride of late and that they expect their solid play to continue against the Sharks (16-10-3).

“We’re definitely playing good hockey right now,” Bennett said. “This is another big one. They’re a really good team. They’re going to come out flying. They always have good starts. We’ve got to be ready to play right from the puck drop.

“These are important games, especially when you’re playing in your home building. We’ve got to get off to a quick lead, play well, play physical and try to build on the momentum we’ve been building the past few games here.”

Calgary captain Mark Giordano agreed with Bennett’s assessment that the Flames have to build upon their recent success, especially with four of their next five games before Christmas being played at home.

“We like the way we’re playing five-on-five,” Giordano said. “We’re not giving up much, but we’re still getting some really good looks as well. Our mindset the way we’ve played the last four, we’re going to get a lot of points if we play that way.”

Like the Flames, the Sharks are coming off a loss in extra time to the Wild. Although they fell behind 3-0 to the Wild at home Sunday, the Sharks rallied back with three straight goals before losing 4-3 in overtime on a goal by Nino Niederreiter.

“If we’re down, we feel there’s no doubt we can come back,” said defenseman Brent Burns, who scored a power-play goal late in the second period and another one early in the third to spark the comeback. “It’s not easy, but we don’t have that doubt.”

The Sharks received some good news Wednesday when right winger Joonas Donskoi returned to practice this week for the first time since he was cross-checked in the ribs by Philadelphia’s Michael Raffl on Nov. 28.

“It’s good. I’m getting close and I think I’m getting ready to play soon,” Donskoi told the San Jose Mercury News.

Before getting injured, Donskoi put up two goals and two assists in his previous four games.

“It’s been frustrating, I’m not going to lie,” Donskoi said. “My body felt good, so it wasn’t a good moment to get out. But that’s how it is sometimes and it was good that it wasn’t too serious.”

The Sharks recalled center Danny O’Regan from the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda on Tuesday, while right winger Barclay Goodrow was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

Meanwhile, center Ryan Carpenter, who was placed on waivers by the Sharks on Tuesday, was claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights the following morning.