Maple Leafs-Flames Preview
Near the bottom of the Western Conference with two months remaining in the season, the Calgary Flames are feeling a sense of urgency.
Though the Toronto Maple Leafs are occupying the same space in the East for another season, they're opting to look to the future.
The Flames can help their cause by winning back-to-back games for the first time more than a month Tuesday night against a visiting Toronto Maple Leafs team continuing its long-term rebuilding project.
Nine points out of the final wild-card spot in the West and needing to pass four teams, Calgary (23-25-3) has little room for error as it looks to reach the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
''We need to play every game like it's a Game 7,'' veteran forward Michael Frolik said. ''It's going to be like that for the rest of the season. We need that mindset.''
Winners of two of three since the All-Star break, the Flames believe Saturday's 4-1 victory at Vancouver might be the spark that ignites that desperately sought run of success. They are 4-7-1 since last winning two in a row Jan. 2 and 5.
"We're a proud team," coach Bob Hartley said. "We have so (many) great veterans, the kids are pushing hard. Let's face it, any team in our situation, we have to go on a big winning streak. It's not winning one, losing one. We have to get going."
Frolik, Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett each had a goal and an assist and Jonas Hiller made 34 saves Saturday.
''It was one of those games we really needed,'' Hiller said. "In the position we're at, every single point's really important. That's definitely something to build on.''
The Flames have clamped down in allowing eight goals in five games while killing off 21 of 23 penalties over the last 10. Karri Ramo, expected to start Tuesday, has posted a 1.79 goals-against average despite losing three of his last four starts.
Calgary has scored four goals in two of three but hasn't produced more than two in consecutive games since Jan. 11 and 13. It's gone 2 for 21 on the power play in the last six contests.
All-Star forward Johnny Gaudreau went scoreless Saturday after his five-game home point streak ended in Friday's 2-1 loss to Columbus. He had a goal and two assists in a 6-3 home victory over Toronto on March 13.
The Maple Leafs (19-23-9) endured a similar defensive performance Saturday in losing for the sixth time in eight road games, 6-1 to Ottawa. Tied with Edmonton and Columbus with an NHL-low 47 points and on pace to miss the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons, Toronto rid itself of a high-paying veteran contract Tuesday by sending captain and defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who is in the second year of a seven-year, $49 million deal, to provincial archrival Ottawa as part of a nine-player deal.
The Maple Leafs received defenseman Jared Cowen, who had fallen out of the Senators top-six rotation, forwards Milan Michalek, Colin Greening and Tobias Lindberg and a second-round pick in 2017. Forwards Matt Fratin, Casey Bailey and Ryan Rupert will also go from Toronto to Ottawa.
Pulled after yielding three goals on eight shots Saturday, James Reimer has a 4.01 GAA while splitting his last four starts. He was in net March 13 and is expected to start Tuesday.
Toronto's Leo Komarov has a team-leading 33 points but three in his last eight games.
The Maple Leafs have gone 3 for 60 on the power play in the past 18.