Flames look to rebound vs. Leafs after rare road loss

NHL

The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to take advantage of a team on the second half of back-to-back road games Friday night when they host the Calgary Flames.

While the Maple Leafs had Thursday off after defeating the host Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 on Wednesday, the Flames lost 4-2 to the struggling Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

The result ended a five-game road winning streak for the Flames, who were opening a seven-game trip. They have dropped two in a row starting with a 4-1 loss to the visiting San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

“We’ve got to regroup here, refocus,” said Mikael Backlund, who scored a goal for the Flames against Montreal. “We’re not happy (that) we’re losing, and good teams don’t lose three in a row. We’ve got to find a way to bounce back (Friday).

“(The Maple Leafs) have a good power play. We’ve got to come out with a lot of energy, which I know we will. A lot of guys, (it’s a) hometown game. Should be a fun game, but it’s a big game for us to set up this road trip. It’s a long trip, and it’s going to be a lot better being 1-1 than 0-2.”

The Maple Leafs have won six of their past seven games, as they bounced back Wednesday after a 5-1 loss to the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

“It was a really good response from us,” said Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, who had two assists on Wednesday. “Everybody up and down the lineup was really solid.”

William Nylander scored twice for Toronto and is on a five-game point streak (four goals, three assists).

“When he’s going, he’s going,” Matthews said. “When he’s skating and moving his feet, he’s dangerous all over the ice and he leads the play well obviously with his skills and his skating. He sees the ice well and he’s easy to play with.”

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said, “I just thought we did a really good job of defending our net. I liked the intensity our team played with defensively in a game that we knew was going to be a low-event game.”

Toronto played Wednesday without team captain John Tavares (lower-body injury).

Tavares, who is tied with Nylander for the team lead with seven goals, missed practice on Tuesday. He did participate in the optional morning skate on Wednesday.

“He’s going to remain day-to-day,” Keefe said. “He obviously skated and went into (Wednesday) planning to play. But the decision was made that an additional day — or a couple of days, a few days, whatever it’s going to be — would benefit him. But he’s not far away.”

Andrew Mangiapane also scored for the Flames in Montreal, his team-leading ninth goal.

Montreal had two power-play goals, Brendan Gallagher’s tally that tied the game 2-2 in the second period and Nick Suzuki’s that gave the Canadiens a 3-2 lead in the third.

“I think we’re a team that didn’t make the playoffs last year and we’re trying to stay in the race,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “There’s not enough difference in the league. I’ll tell you that right now. Every night is a tough game. …

“We’re a team that’s not going to score a lot, so you’ve got to do a lot of grinding and banging away. I thought we did more of that (Thursday) than we did the last couple games.”

–Field Level Media

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