Preview: Flames vs. Sharks
A successful road trip has the Calgary Flames looking to re-establish their momentum at home ahead of the All-Star break.
Facing the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks wouldn't seem to be a good way to do that.
The Flames look to continue their strong play Tuesday night and snap a four-game losing streak to the Sharks, who are on the verge of their longest slide in a year.
Calgary (23-20-6) has gone 5-1-1 in its last seven games following a season-high five-game losing streak. After opening a three-game trip with a shootout loss to San Jose (26-14-6) on Jan. 17, the Flames followed with a 2-1 shootout win over Los Angeles and a 6-2 rout of Edmonton on Saturday.
Playing their next three games at home should benefit the Flames, who had won eight straight there before a 4-1 loss to the Kings on Jan. 14.
"We know how important the points are the rest of the way in and we want to play consistently hard hockey," said left wing Blake Comeau, who tied his career high with three points against the Oilers. "We played well on this road trip, and if we can continue to do that and play as well as we have at home, I think we are going to set ourselves up nicely.
"Everyone is keeping their eyes on the standings right now. There aren't going to be any easy games from here on out."
That's usually the case against the Sharks, but they've matched their longest slide of the season at three games while dropping four of five. The lone victory in that stretch came against Calgary.
San Jose has made a habit of beating the Flames, winning four in a row, including a 4-3 shootout victory in its last visit to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Feb. 25.
The Sharks hope another meeting with Calgary can help them avoid their longest losing streak since dropping six in a row from Jan. 3-13, 2011.
They struggled again Monday, falling 2-1 in a shootout at Edmonton despite holding a 45-18 shot advantage.
"It seemed like we spent an awful lot of time in their end, but you still need to score the goals," center Logan Couture said. "We're frustrated right now. We are playing all right but you still need to find a way to win games like this. We need the points right now. We haven't been getting the wins lately. We got a point (Monday), but I would have rather had two."
Couture, the Sharks' leader with 21 goals, has found the net three times in two games, including a third-period tally against the Oilers before he missed the decisive shootout attempt.
He has two goals and five assists in seven meetings with the Flames.
Calgary's Lee Stempniak is looking to build on his career high-tying four points from Saturday, including his second career hat trick. The right wing totaled three goals in the previous 24 games, and he has none in his past seven meetings with the Sharks.
The Flames may be getting a lift with the possible return of Alex Tanguay from a neck injury that kept him out 15 games. He's expected to be a game-time decision, but the left wing is antsy to get back on the ice.
"I've been working extremely hard to get back," Tanguay said. "For me, I'm just trying to work as hard as possible. It's frustrating for me. I want to get back."
Tanguay has five goals and 17 assists on the season, and six assists in his last five games versus San Jose.