Flames aim to break home skid at expense of Blackhawks
Posted on: 27 Jan, 2024 at 04:12 AM
Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
The Calgary Flames have lost four straight games, all on home ice.
The Chicago Blackhawks have not celebrated a road victory since beating the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 9, spiraling through a 0-18-1 slide since.
When the Flames host the Blackhawks on Saturday, one team will go into the bye week/All-Star break on a high.
While the Blackhawks are sitting at the bottom of the league standings and have long known they were headed for another draft lottery season, the Flames' playoff hopes remain feasible but flickering due to their swoon.
"It's unacceptable," defenseman Chris Tanev said. "Four straight losses at home when you're trying to make the playoffs."
Most recently, Calgary lost 5-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the cellar-dwellers of the Metropolitan Division, on Thursday.
Among the litany of reasons for their struggles, the Flames have not only failed when on the power play, but saw the tide turn in the past two outings by surrendering short-handed goals.
"I feel like our penalty kill's more dangerous than our power play right now, and that's not a good thing," coach Ryan Huska said.
The best news of late for Calgary is the return of forward Oliver Kylington on Thursday. Kylington had not played in the NHL since the 2022 playoffs while dealing with a mental health battle, and he made an emotional return against Columbus, which included a rousing standing ovation.
"It's touching, for sure. It really is," said Kylington. "I just want to give it back. I just want to show my abilities on the ice, and I think that's my way to give it back."
The Blackhawks arrive in Calgary after a 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. Chicago held its own for most of the game, trailing just 1-0 six minutes into the third period before the high-flying Oilers pulled away.
"Everyone has to dig deep. Guys take it differently, but it's definitely hard on everyone," defenseman Isaak Phillips said of his team's struggles. "We've said it a million times, but the effort is there for us. We're in these games and we're one shot away, two shots away the whole time."
The injury-ravaged Blackhawks - who are without a handful of key players, among them top rookie Connor Bedard -- are concluding a four-game road trip that has included two shutouts.
Offense has been a major issue. Chicago has scored two or fewer goals in 12 of 14 games and all but one of its last nine, scoring only 10 goals in those nine outings.
"Close isn't good enough," said forward MacKenzie Entwistle, who was unable to convert a second-period penalty shot that would have tied the game in Edmonton. "It's frustrating, but we stuck in there, we hung in there. We were in it until the end of the game, which was a good thing, but no goals is not good enough."
Despite Chicago's struggles, the Blackhawks are riding four-game winning streak against the Flames, having won all three meetings last season as well as a 4-3 home game earlier this month.
--Field Level Media