Though the Calgary Flames won’t make the playoffs, they can equal their longest winning streak of the season with a fifth consecutive victory Friday night against the visiting Winnipeg Jets.
Calgary (35-38-7) will miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season, but that hasn’t stopped the club from going hard down the stretch. The Flames have won 10 of 15 and yielded five goals during a winning streak that reached four games with Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout victory over playoff-bound Los Angeles.
"We’re very optimistic," coach Bob Hartley said. "I’m unbelievably proud of my group but at the same time come next September, we’re going to still be a team that missed the playoffs in the past year and we’ll have to find a way to be better and more consistent."
Sean Monahan certainly has a bright future for the Flames.
The 19-year old center scored his 21st goal and added the decisive tally in the fourth round of the shootout against the Kings. Monahan is the first Calgary rookie to score that many goals in a season since Jarome Iginla in 1996-97.
"It’s pretty cool," said Monahan, who is fourth among NHL rookies in goals, but has two in 17 games. "Obviously, (Iginla) was a big part of this team and this franchise. To be there, it’s pretty special. It’s an honor."
Karri Ramo made 41 saves against the Kings and has a 1.30 goals-against average during his three-game winning streak.
"In the past weeks, he’s been our best player and when your goalie is the best player, I think it’s an easy thing to figure out," Hartley said about Ramo, who is 17-13-4 with a 2.54 GAA during his first season in Calgary.
"He’s going to give your team lots of confidence."
The Flames, who won five in a row from Jan. 22-Feb. 1, can conclude the home portion of their schedule with a third consecutive victory at the Saddledome. Calgary won the first six home meetings over the Jets’ franchise before losing 5-2 on Jan. 16.
Winnipeg (36-35-10) enters its final game of 2013-14 looking to build on Thursday’s 2-1 shootout win over NHL-leading Boston. Michael Hutchinson made 32 saves for his first win in his second NHL contest and Bryan Little scored the lone goal in the shootout for the Jets, who snapped a three-game home skid to finish 18-17-6 in their own building.
The Jets revived their season by winning nine of the first 11 after Paul Maurice replaced the fired Claude Noel as coach in January. However, they’ve gone 8-10-5 since and will miss the playoffs for a seventh straight season.
"The results aren’t where we want them to be, so the only thing we can do is try to work on that and improve in the future," said forward Blake Wheeler, who has four assists in four games.
Evander Kane scored the Jets’ regulation goal and has one with three assists in three career games against the Flames.
Little has three goals and three assists in his last four versus Calgary.
Two of Winnipeg’s top players, captain Andrew Ladd (elbow) and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (upper-body), will sit the finale.