Calgary Flames @ Pittsburgh Penguins, 11:00 AM MT, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Calgary Flames (34-16-7, 75 Points) - Pittsburgh Penguins (30-20-7, 67 Points)
The Calgary Flames will be finishing off their four game road trip in an unfamiliar position, having lost four straight games. The most recent defeat was a shootout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers in a game that was tied late by Elias Lindholm. It was the Flames ninth consecutive shootout loss dating back to 2017-18.
Despite the shootout loss, the Flames are still sitting in first place in the Western Conference thanks to getting some help with the San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets both losing in regulation on Thursday night. The Flames currently have a game in hand on both teams, and give themselves some separation today with a victory. San Jose and Winnipeg both play later today.
Pittsburgh enters this morning’s contest coming off a 3-1 victory over Edmonton on Wednesday and looking to create a three game winning streak. After a slow start to the 2018-19 campaign, the Penguins have turned things around, but still sit precariously in the final wild card spot in the East.
Calgary will be looking for some revenge after the October meeting between these two teams was an absolute throttling, with Pittsburgh winning 9-1 in Calgary. After winning five straight head to head matchups against Pittsburgh, the Flames have lost two straight games against Pittsburgh. The Flames have won in two of their last three visits to Pittsburgh.
Mike Smith will be getting his second straight start on Saturday after one of his better games of the year against Florida, despite it being in a losing cause. Pittsburgh will likely be countering with Matt Murray. James Neal won’t be playing for the Flames after he suffered a shoulder injury against Florida on a play that looked to have limited contact (those are always the scariest). As a result Curtis Lazar was called up and may draw into the lineup although nothing has been made official.
Here are the Flames projected lines for today’s game:
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Austin Czarnik
Andrew Mangiapane - Derek Ryan - Garnet Hathaway
Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson
Players to Watch
Elias Lindholm (F): He has five points in three games on the road trip thus far, and has more points against Pittsburgh than any other team in his NHL career with 15 points in 21 games.
Matt Murray (G): Murray has put together two first-star performances this week, making a combined 78 saves on 80 shots in a pair of Penguin victories. He’s 1-0-1 in his career against Calgary.
A reminder that this is an early one today with puck drop at 11:00 AM MT