A perfect five-game road trip has the Calgary Flames atop the Pacific Division standings.
The test now is to bring that show to the Stampede City for an extended homestand, kicking off with Saturday’s clash against the Philadelphia Flyers.
After acing a sojourn in which the Flames never trailed en route to outscoring their opponents by a 21-7 margin, the final game a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, they are in high spirits.
“It always sucks to travel after a loss,” said goaltender Jacob Markstrom. “To end the trip on a good note and make it a great road trip instead of a good one, I thought it was really important. A big win, and something to build on.”
The last time the Flames had six or more victories in their first 10 games was the 2010-11 campaign. They have a 5-1-1 mark so far and a big reason has been Markstrom, who collected two shutouts during the road trip and surrendered only one goal in his last three games, stopping 106 of 107 shots against.
But that’s only one reason for their success. The Flames, who boast a league-leading 12 first-period goals, haven’t trailed in regulation since their season opener. They’re top-five in goals allowed per game and top-10 in offense. Plus, the team bonding that takes place during a successful trip can’t be overlooked.
“Since I’ve been in the organization, it’s been a while since we’ve had a start like this,” said forward Johnny Gaudreau, who has 10 points in a six-game point streak. “Now, we’re at home for 10, 11, 12 days, try to use that to our advantage and try to string along a few more wins.”
Speaking of perfect road trips, the Flyers have collected away wins over the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks on consecutive nights, and are looking to take all three games of their first swing of the season with a victory at Calgary.
After handing the Oilers their first loss of the season, the Flyers claimed a tight-checking, 2-1 win in Vancouver on Thursday.
“In back-to-backs, usually you have your legs going early and you’ve got kind of a carryover from the last game, especially (because) we had a big win Wednesday night,” said forward Sean Couturier, who led the way with a goal and assist. “It’s more as the game goes on, you want to keep that same pace. It’s not easy. The travel legs kind of get to you, but we did a good job defensively and we had ‘Jonesy’ to save us a couple of times, so that was huge.”
No. 2 goaltender Martin Jones has won both of his starts this season and would love to play in Calgary, where he played his junior hockey. However, it’s more likely No. 1 goalie Carter Hart will be in goal for a team that’s scored first in five of six games to start the season and won four of its last five. Philadelphia has scored 11 first-period goals, so the goalies will be front and center to begin.
“Really happy with what we’ve done these first two games on the road trip,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “We’re going to recover, we’re going to rest up (Friday) and then we’re going to get ready for Calgary.”
The Flyers were hoping defenseman Ryan Ellis would be recovered from an undisclosed injury in time to play on the trip, but Vigneault said he was not optimistic Ellis would suit up against the Flames.
–Field Level Media