Flames, Blackhawks try to build some late-season success

League: NHL

Posted on: 25 Mar, 2024 at 11:17 PM

Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Losing three straight games and six of eight has dealt a significant blow to the Calgary Flames' bid for a Western Conference playoff spot.

With 12 games remaining entering Tuesday's visit to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Flames (33-32-5, 71 points) trail three teams vying for the conference's final wild-card slot.

While still mathematically alive in the postseason race, the Flames are becoming equally aware their stretch run may be leading toward an early offseason.

The Flames are intent on not allowing that to dampen their outlook.

"We're all competitors," Calgary forward Oliver Kylington said. "We just have to remind ourselves that we're here for each other and we want to make ourselves better and push each other.

"That starts in practice and that transcends the game. We can't just not do that every day. We have to do that every day."

While the Flames have been outscored 13-5 during their current losing streak, they've either been tied or trailing by one goal to start the third period of their past two defeats.

Jonathan Huberdeau's power-play goal midway through the second period Sunday tied the game against the visiting Sabres at 1 before Buffalo took the lead midway through the third. The Sabres added a pair of empty-net goals in the final minute.

"We're gonna keep going every game, and these (past) two games, we've been battling hard and competing," Calgary captain Mikael Backlund said. "Two tight games. Just haven't been executing and that's what cost us."

The winner of Tuesday's game will claim the season series between the Blackhawks and Flames.

One of three teams eliminated from the West playoff race, Chicago (20-46-5, 45 points) can attest to the Flames' resolution to stay engaged over the final three weeks of the season.

The Blackhawks are 5-4 on the heels of a seven-game losing streak. On Saturday, they scored the final five goals to stun the host San Jose Sharks -- the lone club trailing them in the standings -- with a 5-4 overtime victory.

Seth Jones scored twice, including the game winner 18 seconds into OT.

"In a 4-0 game, you just need to get one and you start to feel better about yourself," said Chicago's Ryan Donato, who put the Blackhawks on the board late in the second period and added a pair of assists. "And you get two and then you know you're back in the game."

While slow starts have plagued the Blackhawks for much of the season, rebounding from their latest one paved the way to putting a five-point cushion between themselves and San Jose for last place in the league standings.

"Credit to (the Sharks)," Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. "They came and skated hard early and pressured us and we turned a lot of pucks over.

"I think once we got in our head in the middle of the second period (that) we had to get our feet moving and just play simple and chip pucks behind them and get to work, it started to turn in our favor."

The Flames and Blackhawks haven't met since Jan. 27. Calgary earned a 1-0 home victory behind an Elias Lindholm power-play goal and 32 saves from Jacob Markstrom.

--Field Level Media