The parallels between the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames are easy to spot as they prepare to clash Sunday night in Calgary, Alberta.
Both clubs sit six points out of a playoff position. Both must vault more than one team to push into a wild-card spot. Lastly, both are coming off disappointing defeats.
While the Senators lost 5-2 to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, the Flames will look to regroup from a dismal 3-1 home defeat to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
“Big game, especially with both teams are in the same position,” said Flames forward Milan Lucic. “Both teams need the two points, so it’s going to make for a really good, competitive, hard game.”
Calgary is winless in its past five games at home. The Flames have lost 19 times this season in games they have outshot the opposition by 10 or more, an NHL record.
It gets worse, too. The Flames have only two tallies in their past two outings.
Among the attempts to find some offensive touch, coach Darryl Sutter put struggling forward Jonathan Huberdeau back to his natural left-wing position on a line with Tyler Toffoli and Dillon Dube during Saturday’s practice.
For the past couple of months, Huberdeau has been skating as a right winger, possibly among the reasons the 115-point player last season with the Florida Panthers has only 12 goals and 30 assists this season.
“I think when you play right wing when you’re a shooter, it’s easier to get some one-timer passes and stuff like that, but for me, that’s not really my type of game,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s going to help my game.”
The Senators have lost two of three games following their season-best five-game winning streak that pulled them into the playoff race. They arrive in Calgary a half-dozen points behind the New York Islanders, who currently hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, albeit with three games in hand.
The loss Saturday in Vancouver, though, was tough to swallow, especially with how the Senators hurt themselves.
“We took six penalties on the road. You’re not going to win. Tripping, stick penalties, not physical penalties,” coach D.J. Smith said.
“We’ve got to go (to Calgary) and be disciplined, stick with what we do and grind out. We lost focus in the second period and have to be better.”
The Senators started well in the first period against the Canucks but lost momentum every time they were called for an infraction. They had a strong push in last half of the third period, but it was too little, too late.
“It’s frustrating,” veteran forward Claude Giroux said. “I don’t think we played that bad. We did a lot of good things, and it was kind of a weird game. You think you’re playing good and you’re down 4-0.”
Ottawa’s penalty parade has not been the only problem of late. The power play has been blanked in the past five games, failing to convert in 16 chances, and even surrendered a short-handed goal to the Canucks.
“That’s how it goes. With 82 games, you’re going to be hot and you’re going to be cold,” Giroux said. “You need to find ways to put the puck in the net.”
–Field Level Media