Hurricanes Record: 19-17-9 (47 pts.)
Flames Record: 15-24-6 (36 pts.)
The Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames wrap up their regular season series here in Raleigh tonight. The Flames come to town trying to end a three-game losing streak; meanwhile the Canes have won five of their last six. The two teams met a month ago, on December 12th, in Calgary, and the Flames prevailed with a 2-1 overtime win.
The Canes have been off for two nights after suffering a 3-0 shutout at the hands of the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Friday night. They returned to the rink on Sunday with a few previously-injured players poised to return to the lineup. Riley Nash, missing five games with a lower body injury, was activated from injured reserve on Saturday, and Jiri Tlusty, who missed eight games after an appendectomy, is expected to join the lineup tonight (although he has not yet been reactivated). Captain Eric Staal has missed three games with a lower body injury and is considered day-to-day until further evaluation after today's morning skate.
In anticipation of the returning players, both Brett Sutter and Zach Boychuk were reassigned to the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday.
There were quite a few line changes in yesterday's practice to work in the returning players. Manny Malhotra did not practice, but it was classified as a rest day and he should be able to play tonight. Cam Ward (IR, lower body) skated but has not resumed full practice with the team. Kirk Muller provided an audio update. Here's how they lined up:
Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin
Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer
Jiri Tlusty - Elias Lindholm - Radek Dvorak
Drayson Bowman - Riley Nash - Tuomo Ruutu
Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore
John-Michael Liles - Jay Harrison
Mike Komisarek - Ryan Murphy
Tonight's starting goaltender has not been named, but all indications are that Anton Khudobin will continue to get the starts until he doesn't. Dobby has not faced the Flames in his NHL career. Should his services be required tonight, Justin Peters was in net for the overtime loss in Calgary in December, his only appearance against the Flames, where he a had a .933 save percentage with 28 saves on 30 shots in the overtime loss.
After being shut out Friday night, there are no scoring streaks to speak of, so here are a couple of other cool stats:
- Jeff Skinner is only one of two NHL players (Chicago's Patrick Kane is the other) to rank in the top ten in the NHL in goals, power play goals, and game-winning goals.
- Manny Malhotra ranks third overall in the NHL in faceoff win percentage (59.7%).
- The Hurricanes continue to lead the NHL in shorthanded goals with eight.
- The Canes have won 13 games by one point or less. Only Anaheim (17) and Pittsburgh (15) have won more one-goal games.
Eric Staal will be the guest of Mike Maniscalco for Canes Corner tomorrow night at Backyard Bistro. Visit there at 7 pm or join the conversation at 99.9 The Fan.
Calgary Flames Notes
The Flames were host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night and suffered a 2-1 loss to the Eastern Conference leaders. That loss was the Flames' third in a row and brought their record to 2-8-0 in their last ten. Despite that run of bad fortune, the Flames were able to defeat the Canes just a month ago and hold a 6-1-1 record in the last eight meetings.
The Flames are having trouble scoring goals. Since the Christmas holiday break, they have scored six goals in eight games and have been shut out in five. Help may be coming with the recall of Ben Street, who is the leading scorer for the Abbotsford Heat with 33 points (17 goals, 16 assists). That recall may be coming at a price, however, as there are rumors that forward Mike Cammalleri, currently second on the team in scoring behind Jiri Hudler, may be injured (links here and here).
Captain Mark Giordano had to receive medical attention after suffering a high hit from Robert Bortuzzo Saturday night (which earned Bortuzzo a game misconduct), but Giordano did travel with the team and is expected to play.
The Hurricanes should see rookie Sean Monahan tonight for the first time. Monahan was chosen sixth overall by Calgary in last summer's entry draft, just one spot behind Elias Lindholm. They will also see the return of Kevin Westgarth, who was traded to the Flames on December 30th.
The Flames didn't practice yesterday since they were traveling to Raleigh. This is how they lined up for Saturday's game:
Mike Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Paul Byron - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler
Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - TJ Galiardi
Kevin Westgarth - Joe Colbome - Brian McGrattan
Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Ladislav Smid - Dennis Wideman
Chris Butler - Shane O'Brien
The Flames haven't announced their starting goaltender. Reto Berra was in net on Saturday for the loss, and Karri Ramo was in net for the win against the Canes in December. Ramo is 2-2-0 career against the Canes with a 2.82 GAA in four games. Berra has not faced the Canes in his career.
Curtis Glencross (high ankle sprain), Kris Russell (MCL sprain), and Blair Jones (meniscal tear) are all on Injured Reserve. David Jones is listed as day-to-day with an eye issue.
We'll have the game thread ready to go by 6:30 pm. See you at the rink.