Flames look to halt two-game slide against Coyotes (Dec 19, 2016)

BY AP • December 18, 2016

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan understands that Friday's loss to Columbus is something a lot of Blue Jackets opponents have endured this season.

"It's obvious that they're not doing it just to us," Gulutzan told the Calgary Herald of a team on an eight-game winning streak that started shortly after a 2-0 loss to the Flames. "They're doing it to a lot of teams in the National Hockey League, but we should have been prepared to elevate our game and we weren't."

Gulutzan hopes the Flames can rectify that problem when they face the Arizona Coyotes on Monday at Gila River Arena. Calgary (16-15-2) worked hard to get back into Pacific Division contention after a 5-10-1 start this season. They'd like to stay in contention.

"It's time to stop it where it is," Flames captain Mark Giordano said of a two-game losing streak that followed a six-game winning streak. "The last two games haven't been near good enough. We've been hurting ourselves with some big mistakes.

"We might have been getting away with a few things here and there when you're on a winning streak, but then you lose a few games and goals go in your net, you notice those more."

The Flames are healthy other than defenseman Ladislav Smid, who is out for the season while rehabbing a neck injury. But there is mild concern that goalie Chad Johnson has allowed four goals in back-to-back starts (he was pulled in one) after carrying the team in its climb back above .500.

The Flames are expected to back to Brian Elliott, whom they signed this summer as a free agent to become their No. 1 goalie.

Goaltending hasn't been an issue in Arizona, where Mike Smith ranks 10th in the NHL in save percentage (.930) despite playing behind a team that allows a league-high 35.6 shots per game.

Arizona is coming off a four-game road trip on which it went 2-2 but suffered lopsided losses to Pittsburgh (7-0) and Minnesota (4-1). The latter ended the team's two-game winning streak and stymied a third attempt at the team's first three-game winning streak this season.

"Guys are trying, and we want to win in every game we're involved in," said Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy, who returned to the lineup on Saturday at Minnesota after a three-game absence with an upper-body injury. "Sometimes it's hard to get going so that we can keep pushing and not let things pile up on us."

The Coyotes' minus-7.3 shot differential is the worst in the league, but coach Dave Tippett wasn't as concerned with that stat as he was with his team's inability to win individual battles in previous games.

"There's a lot of situations where we got beat one-on-one, and we didn't beat anybody one-on-one," Tippett said. "That's, a lot of times, what the game comes down to."

Smith is likely to start again in goal for the Coyotes, who did not practice on Sunday. Arizona returned home without any significant injuries.

Left winger Max Domi (hand surgery) and center Brad Richardson (broken tibia and fibula) are the only players unavailable. Both are out indefinitely.

This is the third of five matchups between Calgary and Arizona this season. The Flames won the first two meetings in overtime by 2-1 scores.

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