The Calgary Flames hope a return to home ice will spark their offense when they host the slumping Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
The Flames begin a five-game homestand after posting a modest 2-3-1 record on their six-game road trip, which included a 5-4 shootout win over the Panthers on Nov. 19. Just when it seemed as if Calgary might be escaping its season-long scoring malaise, the team has again had trouble putting the puck into the net.
Calgary has scored only three goals during its three-game winless streak (0-2-1). A 3-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday was the Flames’ first shutout defeat of the season, and a 3-2 setback to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday saw the Flames register a season-low 20 shots.
“We’ve seen glimpses of periods … where we’re very dominant, and for whatever reason, it’s almost the complete opposite for periods at a time,” said Flames forward Tyler Toffoli, who scored against Carolina.
“It’s not like time’s running out (in the season), but at the same time, you realize how good this team is and I think we’re just letting games slip through our fingers a little bit. It’s just a little frustrating.”
The Panthers are in a frustrating stretch of their own, with just one win in their past six games (1-2-3). That skid includes the previous loss to Calgary as well as a pair of crushing overtime losses in the past two games.
Florida took a 4-1 lead into the third period on Saturday against the host St. Louis Blues, only to take a 5-4 defeat in overtime. On Monday, the Edmonton Oilers got a 4-3 OT win over the Panthers when Evan Bouchard equalized with five seconds remaining in regulation and Leon Draisaitl scored the winner 22 seconds into the extra frame.
The late collapse spoiled the Panthers’ own comeback attempt, as Florida erased a 2-1 deficit in the third period on goals from Anton Lundell and Brandon Montour.
“(Down) 2-1 in the third, we found a way to get the lead back,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “That’s tough when you lose it with five seconds left on the clock. … The fight was there, but we know we can get better.”
The Panthers will continue to be without captain Aleksander Barkov, who has missed the past two games and also won’t play against Calgary. Barkov is battling a non-COVID illness, and Maurice said the forward is expected to be back at some point during the Panthers’ ongoing five-game road trip.
Former Flames star Matthew Tkachuk will return to Calgary for the first time since being dealt to Florida in a blockbuster offseason trade. Tkachuk is on a roll with five goals, seven assists and five multi-point performances in his past seven games.
Jonathan Huberdeau, who joined Calgary as part of the Tkachuk trade, has just one goal and one assist in his past five games.
Since Panthers goalie Spencer Knight faced Edmonton on Monday, Sergei Bobrovsky likely will start in net against the Flames. Knight has gotten the bulk of recent playing time, as Bobrovsky has struggled to a 3.62 goals against average and an .888 save percentage over 11 starts this season.
Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom is also looking to get on track. After finishing second in Vezina Trophy voting in the 2021-22 campaign, Markstrom has only a 3.03 GAA and an .889 save percentage in 16 starts this season.
–Field Level Media