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Calgary Flames vs Florida Panthers game preview

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The Panthers had a rather emotional game as Roberto Luongo faced the Canucks last night. Anyway, that's over and done with now, and the Flames are seeing them on their second of a back-to-back.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Three teams are circling each other over three days. Last night, the Florida Panthers played the Vancouver Canucks. Tonight, the Panthers are in Calgary to take on the Flames. And tomorrow night, the Flames will be in Vancouver to play the Canucks. So... really the only ones who aren't travelling are the Canucks. Oh well. Jerks.

The Flames and Panthers have already played each other this season, back on Nov.8. It was a game that looked like the Panthers' for the taking - until Johnny Gaudreau was placed on a line with Sean Monahan, and the Flames rallied for some late goals to ultimately win 6-4. It was a pretty neat finish. We'll see if they can repeat that performance tonight - especially considering some of the new look lines...

But first, in their previous game, the Flames came off a four days' rest to host the Detroit Red Wings. With the return of Mikael Backlund, they jumped out to a great start, but ultimately, a poor powerplay sunk them. Backlund assisted on the first goal and scored the second shorthanded, just the Flames' second shorty of the season. Mason Raymond returned from two games sitting in the pressbox as a healthy scratch, and scored the opening goal himself. While they certainly put the effort in, though, it just wasn't enough, as they lost 3-2. | RecapStatsBoxscore | Backlund had an excellent return game:

As for the opponent, the Panthers have been win-lose-win lately. They defeated the Buffalo Sabres, which isn't exactly an impressive feat. Then they lost 4-3 to the Washington Capitals, their comeback stopped by Braden Holtby. Al Montoya played the third period for precautionary reasons after Alex Ovechkin barrelled into Roberto Luongo. Luongo was back for the Panthers' most recent game, though - a 3-1 win over the Canucks, thanks to 32 saves by Luongo, two Jonathan Huberdeau goals, and an Aleksander Barkov one to top it off. Luongo won't be playing the Flames thanks to the back-to-back situation, so there's one worry gone. (The Flames faced Montoya last time as well - and scored five goals on him.)

For more on the Panthers, be sure to check out Litter Box Cats.

Game time: 7:00 p.m. MT

Channel: SN1

All-time record: The Flames have the clear lead on the Panthers franchise, posting a 14-7-3-2 record against them. Despite that, the Flames only have a +4 all-time goal differential.

Common threads: Other than being two teams who were at the bottom of the league standings last season and are now about middle of the pack, the Flames and Panthers have a player in common. Dennis Wideman played 61 games for the Panthers in the 2010-11 season before he was traded to the Washington Capitals. He had nine goals and 33 points for them over that time. From the Caps, the Flames signed him to a five-year deal, and has already played 132 games for the Flames: 20 goals (half of which have come this season!) and 65 points.

Also, Shane O'Brien is on the Panthers now! ... We don't need to talk about that time Shane O'Brien was on the Flames. All... 45? He played 45 games as a Flame? Wait, seriously?

Approaching milestones: Because Karri Ramo took himself out of the game with a possibly ill-advised charge and Rafa Diaz's knee to his head, Jonas Hiller edged closer to that 20,000 minute mark. He just needs to play 32 more minutes to get there. And since he's the lone regular NHL goaltender on the roster, it's probably a safe bet he'll hit that mark tonight (unless he decides to go charging into someone's knee before then).

Current records and leaders

Calgary Flames Florida Panthers
21-17-3: 45 points 18-11-9: 45 points
Pacific Division: 5th Atlantic Division: 5th
Western Conference: 9th Eastern Conference: 9th
Time on ice
Defence: TJ Brodie (24:58 per game)
Forward: Sean Monahan (19:31 per game)
Defence: Brian Campbell (23:24 per game)
Forward: Nick Bjugstad (16:49 per game)
Points
Goals: Jiri Hudler
Johnny Gaudreau (13)
Assists: Jiri Hudler
Mark Giordano (25)
Points: Jiri Hudler (38)
Goals: Nick Bjugstad(15)
Assists: Aaron Ekblad (18)
Points: Nick Bjugstan (24)
Shots
Shots on goal: Sean Monahan (103)
Shooting percentage: Josh Jooris (19.6%)
Shots on goal: Nick Bjugstad (102)
Shooting percentage: Jimmy Hayes(15.7%)
Faceoff Leaders
Sean Monahan (49.8%, 899 taken) Derek MacKenzie (53.8%, 504 taken)
Grit
Penalty minutes: Brandon Bollig (40)
Hits: Lance Bouma (125)
Blocked shots: Kris Russell (127)
Penalty minutes: Erik Gudbranson (33)
Hits: Derek MacKenzie (119)
Blocked shots: Willie Mitchell (92)
Corsi/Fenwick (minimum 1/2 team's games played)
Corsi for%: Mark Giordano (47.6%, 41 GP)
Jiri Hudler (47.5%, 39 GP)
Fenwick for%: Josh Jooris (49.8%, 31 GP)
Johnny Gaudreau (48.9%, 40 GP)
Corsi for%: Sean Bergenheim (58.9%, 27GP)
Aleksander Barkov (54.8%, 28 GP)
Fenwick for%: Sean Bergenheim (58.8%, 27 GP)
Aleksander Barkov (54.8%, 28 GP)


Possible starting lineups

Calgary Flames
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Jiri Hudler
Mason Raymond Mikael Backlund Paul Byron
Curtis Glencross Markus Granlund Joe Colborne
Lance Bouma Matt Stajan David Jones
Left Defense Right Defense
Mark Giordano TJ Brodie
Kris Russell Dennis Wideman
Ladislav Smid Deryk Engelland
Goalies
Jonas Hiller
Joni Ortio

Florida Panthers
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Jonathan Huberdeau Nick Bjugstad Jimmy Hayes
Sean Bergenheim Aleksander Barkov Brad Boyes
Jussi Jokinen Dave Bolland Tomas Fleischmann
Tomas Kopecky Derek MacKenzie Scottie Upshall
Left Defense Right Defense
Brian Campbell Aaron Ekblad
Willie Mitchell Dmitry Kulikov
Shane O`Brien Dylan Olsen
Goalies
Al Montoya
Roberto Luongo


Gaudreau - Monahan - Hudler is finally a thing! No Brandon Bollig means the fourth line is functional! That's actually a very balanced-looking forward group! Mikael Backlund!! Unfortunately, the Smid - Engelland pairing - which never, at any point, worked (not that the third pairing has been great at any point this year, but, you know) looks like it may be back, so get ready for a long night.