Johnny Gaudreau’s scoring binge has made the Calgary Flames unbeatable at home for more than six weeks.
Duplicating that success on the road has been an issue all season, however.
Home Record: 10-5-0
Away Record: 3-9-2
Flames, winners of five in row, begin trip at Predators
FLAMES (13-14-2) at PREDATORS (15-10-5)
TV: SNF, FS-TN
Season series: The Calgary Flames won all three of their games against the Nashville Predators last season. Forward Joe Colborne’s shootout goal gave the Flames a 3-2 victory on Oct. 14. Calgary scored three third-period goals in 4:01 for a 4-3 win on Oct. 31. Two goals from forward Lance Bouma helped the Flames to a 5-2 victory on March 29.
Flames team scope: Winners of five consecutive games, all at home, Calgary begins a four-game trip against opponents who were a combined 70-33-17 entering Monday. Coach Bob Hartley is hoping the Flames can translate their success at home, where they’ve won nine straight, to the road. “It’s four big games against four excellent hockey clubs,” Hartley told the Flames website. “We will need to be at our best. We want to be a playoff team, we have to win those games. … It’s important that we keep playing the same brand of hockey.” Forward Sam Bennett and defenseman Dennis Widemaneach took a maintenance day Monday and is expected to play. Goalie Karri Ramo will start after missing the past two games with the flu. Calgary has the NHL’s worst power play (11.6 percent) and penalty kill (70.9 percent). “We’re going to keep working,” Hartley said. “We fixed some pieces of our game and now we need to keep going. It’s all in the confidence. Every part of our game will have to be going full throttle.”
Predators team scope: Coach Peter Laviolette is wary of Calgary’s offense, which is 13th in the League at 2.7 goals a game but averaged 4.4 goals during its perfect five-game homestand. “I remember the games from last year, they were wide open,” Laviolette told the Predators website. “They play a game that’s more run and gun, so we have to pay attention to their offense. They have some dangerous players.” Forward James Neal was given a maintenance day and did not practice Monday. Forwards Colin Wilson (lower body), Mike Fisher (lower body) and Gabriel Bourque (upper body) all remain sidelined. Nashville has alternated wins and losses its past four games, and is coming off a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. “The one thing that stands out for me most, if you’re weighing the last three or four games, is just trying to be consistent with what we’re doing,” Laviolette said. “We’ve lost that consistency along the way at times.”
The red-hot Flames begin a challenging four-game trip by visiting one of the NHL’s notoriously tough venues on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators.
Mired near the bottom of the Western Conference through the season’s first two months, Calgary (13-14-2) has risen back into contention by amassing 21 goals over a perfect five-game homestand. The Flames won their ninth straight at Scotiabank Saddledome with Saturday’s 5-4 overtime decision over the New York Rangers, during which Gaudreau scored twice and assisted on T.J. Brodie’s game-winner.
The Flames, aiming for their first six-game win streak since Jan. 21-Feb. 3, 2011, haven’t been nearly as formidable on the road, where they’ve lost four straight and seven of eight and are 3-9-2 this season.
”We’re moving in the right direction,” said Brodie, who’s recorded seven points over a six-game streak. “I think now we have to find a way to win on the road. We have to start finding ways to win in regulation.”
Gaudreau has seven goals and three assists during the surge but like his team, hasn’t been the same in enemy arenas. The dynamic young forward has just two goals and seven points in 14 road games, compared to 10 goals and 24 points in 15 at home.
Sean Monahan has posted similar splits. The third-year center, who contributed three goals and three assists on the homestand, has compiled 16 of his 23 points at the Saddledome.
With visits to NHL points leader Dallas, St. Louis and Detroit also on this trip, the Flames will get a good indication as to whether they’ve indeed turned a corner.
“We will need to be at our best,” coach Bob Hartley told the Flames’ official website. “If we want to be a playoff team, we have to win those games. We’re on a good roll right now. Guys are feeling good. It’s important we keep playing the same brand of hockey.”
Nashville (15-10-5) hasn’t been in top form of late, having lost four of six, but owns a 9-4-2 record at Bridgestone Arena after going a West-leading 28-9-4 on home ice last season. Calgary did win twice in Nashville, however, while sweeping the three-game season series in 2014-15.
The Predators have produced mixed results on their present three-game residency, following a 5-1 rout of Chicago on Thursday with Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Colorado.
Pekka Rinne stopped just 22 shots against the Avalanche after making 35 saves versus the Blackhawks. He’s surrendered three or more goals in seven of 10 starts after going 10-2-3 with a 2.10 goals-against average over his first 15.
Rinne does possess a 1.99 GAA at home, while Calgary has scored 11 goals over its last six road tests.
Karri Ramo returns to the Calgary net after missing two games due to a flu bug that also affected several other players. He won a third straight start with a 31-save effort in a 4-2 home decision over San Jose last Tuesday.
The Flames are last in the NHL with a 3.52 team GAA.