Flames in must-win territory vs. Avs (Feb 23, 2018)

February 23, 2018

CALGARY, Alberta -- Fresh off a 5-2 road win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, the Calgary Flames will look to build on that momentum when they host the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Heading into the afternoon affair at the Scotiabank Saddledome, both the Flames (31-22-9) and Avalanche (32-23-5) are on the outside of the NHL's Western Conference playoff picture looking in.

"We're in a dog fight and we know it," said Calgary defenseman Travis Hamonic following Thursday's victory that ended a three-game losing streak for the Flames. "We've got to start collecting points and stringing some (wins) together."

According to left winger Johnny Gaudreau, who had a goal and two assists against the Coyotes, the Flames are looking at every game as a must-win situation.

"You see how tight the standings are," said Gaudreau, who is sitting second in the NHL scoring race with 73 points behind Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov (80 points). "Every game's important. These points are crucial now with just less than 20 games in the season. Hopefully we can get on a little roll here and try to keep clicking away and keep getting points."

Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan referred to Thursday's win over the Coyotes as a step in the right direction.

"We've got to get this train rolling here and that's a start," said Gulutzan, whose move to elevate Sam Bennett to play alongside Gaudreau and Sean Monahan paid off as the trio combined for seven points against the Coyotes. "I thought that they made some plays and they had some energy and what we're looking for at this time of the year is any sort of spark that we can get. We're just trying to create some energy and get a spark here with our group."

Meanwhile, the Avalanche will be looking to bounce back from a 3-2 overtime loss they suffered to the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday.

"Every game from now on is huge for us," said rookie center Tyson Jost, who had an assist against the Oilers to extend his point-scoring streak to three games. "Our goal is to be in the playoffs, so we're going to have to have a lot better than we did (against Edmonton). I know our team's capable of that.

"Everybody just has to be a little bit better and our compete (level) has to be a little higher. These points are crucial for us because our end goal is the playoffs and we're not afraid to admit that."

Left winger Gabriel Bourque said the Avs have extra motivation to win against the Flames because they want to finish their three-game road trip with a 2-0-1 record.

"Both teams are fighting for a playoff spot, so it's going to be an intense game," Bourque said. "We're going to have to be ready. It'll be a really good road trip if we win and that'll have to be our mindset."

Saturday's outing against the Flames will end a stretch that has seen the Avalanche play 13 of their past 16 games away from the Pepsi Center in Denver.

"Any time you're on the road and you're on for an extended period of time, it is a little bit grueling," defenseman David Warsofsky told the team website. "People say the last game is always the hardest, and hopefully we can get two points (on Saturday) and head back home with a win."



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