Flames, Coyotes try to avoid penalty box (Dec 31, 2016)

BY AP • December 30, 2016

CALGARY, Alberta -- Penalty troubles cost both the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night in losses on home ice for the respective teams.

While the Flames (19-17-2) surrendered two power-play goals in a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the Coyotes (11-20-5) allowed the New York Rangers to score four times on seven chances with the man advantage during a 6-3 loss.

Players on both teams vowed that they'll be more disciplined heading into a matchup between the two Pacific Division rivals at the Scotiabank Saddledome on New Year's Eve.

"We can play five-on-five with any team," said Calgary goalie Chad Johnson, who's looking to bounce back after losing his past four starts. "When you're short-handed, you're not going to score goals and it's going to be hard to get momentum. When you take penalties, it just kills you.

"Even late in the third (against the Ducks) when it's a 2-1 game, we're taking penalties. It just can't happen. We're fighting to get points here."

Center Sam Bennett said that continual trips to the penalty box, six of which resulted in power plays, cost the Flames against the Ducks.

"We took the momentum away from us and we gave it to them and we couldn't come back after that," Bennett said. "There's a couple plays that are just undisciplined and we've got to be better as a group. We talk about it and talk about it, but at the end of the day, we have to go out there and do it."

After Arizona's sixth straight setback and fifth in a row on home ice, the Coyotes held a players-only meeting to address the situation.

"It's got to stop," said left winger Anthony Duclair, who has found the back of the net in two straight games after going through a 21-game drought without a goal. "We've got to put an end to it. It's just embarrassing."

Right winger Tobias Rieder, who also scored against the Rangers, said the Coyotes have to find a way to stop taking bad penalties against top teams.

"We've got to work harder, we've got to stick together as a team and find our way out of it," Rieder said. "We've just got to find a way to be better."

Veteran center Martin Hanzal, an alternate captain with the Coyotes, took full responsibility for two undisciplined penalties he took against the Rangers.

"The leadership's got to be better starting with myself," Hanzal said. "It's just not good enough right now. My penalties (were) stupid penalties. It was just unacceptable."

The Flames are hoping to have defenseman Dougie Hamilton back in the lineup against the Coyotes on Saturday. Hamilton missed Thursday's game against the Ducks and also didn't attend Friday's practice at the Saddledome because of illness.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes loaned defenseman Kevin Connauton to the AHL's Tucson Roadrunners for a conditioning assignment on Friday. Connauton has one assist in nine games with the Coyotes this season.

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