Monahan, Flames try to maintain scoring pace against Predators

CALGARY, Alberta — Sean Monahan has found his scoring touch of late with goals in three straight games.

The 22-year-old center is hoping to keep his hot streak going when the Calgary Flames (24-20-3) host the Nashville Predators (20-17-7) on Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

“Right now, this is an important part of the season and this is the time for me to step up obviously,” said Monahan, who went through an 11-game goal drought from mid-December until he found the back of the net last Friday.

“These next 10, 15 games can determine a lot, so we’ve got to be pushing here and I want to be a guy who can take some charge here.”

Even before Monahan started scoring, Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan noticed that the fourth-year NHLer was doing a lot of good things at both ends of the ice.

“I see Mony in the defensive side of the game trying to do everything right,” Gulutzan said after Monahan had a goal and an assist in Calgary’s 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers at home on Tuesday. “He’s committed to playing a 200-foot game. I’ve liked what he’s done and his mindset of approaching games. Now to get the three goals is just the icing on the cake.”

While the line of Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk has been carrying most of the load offensively for the Flames recently, Troy Brouwer said he believes that other lines will start to chip in as well.

“There’s guys in here that are carrying us and everyone’s still doing what they need to do to win,” said Brouwer, who has found chemistry lately playing on right wing alongside Monahan. “Your top players are not going to be the ones to score goals every night. It’s going to be the supporting cast. We’re learning from a few games (where) we’re having breakdowns in our game and we’re getting better. We’re evolving as a team.”

The Flames will face a Predators squad that will be eager to atone for a 1-0 loss they suffered in Vancouver to the Canucks on Tuesday.

“This is the time of the year where you have to put points in the bank,” defenseman Matt Irwin said after Tuesday’s loss. “You just have to find a way to get one or two, especially on the road. We were right there (against the Canucks). Unfortunately, we didn’t get it, but there’s parts of our game we really liked. We’ll have to carry that into a couple more tough buildings on the road here and get some more points.”

After facing the Flames in Calgary on Thursday, the Predators head north to Edmonton to take on the Oilers the next night.

Defenseman P.K. Subban, who has missed Nashville’s past 15 games with an upper-body injury, practiced with the Predators in Calgary on Wednesday and could make his return to the lineup soon.

“He looked good,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette told reporters while remaining tight-lipped about whether Subban will play Thursday. “But he looked good yesterday, and he looked good four days ago.”

The Predators claimed defenseman Brad Hunt on waivers from the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday and he joined the team in Calgary.