Flames face Blue Jackets, look to extend streak

Doug Bean, The Sports Xchange
Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets face the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI
Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets face the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Two teams at or near the top of the division standings who have each gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games meet Tuesday night when the Calgary Flames visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Flames (16-9-2) will be looking to extend their winning streak to three games after a 3-2 victory in Chicago over the Blackhawks on Sunday. Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and Derek Ryan each scored goals for Calgary.


The Blue Jackets (15-9-2) were knocked out of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division after a 3-2 loss on the road Saturday night at the New York Islanders in Nassau Coliseum.

Returning home should benefit the Blue Jackets. They've 4-0-1 in the past five games at Nationwide Arena and have won three in a row. Nine of their 14 games in December will be played at home.

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The Blue Jackets feel fortunate to have defenseman Ryan Murray available against the Flames after he blocked an Islanders shot in the third period and left the ice Saturday night.

During Monday's practice, he showed no ill effects from what could have proved to be a serious injury.


"It's coming right down main street. You're right there. You're not going to move out of the way," he told the team's website. "You're hoping for the best. It could have been a lot worse.

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"We got X-rays. Everything looked good. I thought for sure it was broken, honestly. I was pretty fortunate in the end."

Fueling the Blue Jackets' recent success is their power play, which ranks 15th in the NHL at 20.0 percent but has converted eight of its past 28 attempts (28.5 percent).

The leader of the attack in recent games is right winger Cam Atkinson, who with an assist on Saturday night established a career high with a point in 10 consecutive games. He has 10 goals and six assists during that streak, which is tied for the second longest in franchise history behind a 13-game streak by Ryan Johansen in 2014-15.

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Atkinson's linemate, center Pierre-Luc Dubois, has kept pace with seven goals and eight assists in the past eight games. Nearly a third of the way through the season, Dubois has 13 goals and 25 points.

Their other lineman, left winger Artemi Panarin, leads the Blue Jackets with 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists).


Forward Markus Hannikainen has contributed five points in the last eight games and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has experienced success against the Flames in the past, posting a 7-2-2 record with a 1.88 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.

The Flames, who have won three of their past four games, are led by dynamic forward Johnny Gaudreau's 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists). Sean Monahan is right behind with 29 (15 goals, 14 assists) and defenseman Mark Giordano has accumulated 21 points (three goals, 21 assists).

Flames coach Bill Peters was undecided on Monday after practice whether Mike Smith (8-7-1) or David Rittich will start in goal. Smith made 22 saves in the win at Chicago and Rittich has an 8-2-1 record this season.

"We're very lucky," Peters said, according to the team's website. "We've got both goaltenders dialed in well, making big saves at key times, and it feels like the decision you make, as a group, when you put the goaltender in, it feels like you're going to win the game no matter who you go with."

Peters was certain that former Blue Jackets forward Dalton Prout will be in the lineup after he was recalled from the American Hockey League. Prout has played in one game for the Flames this season.


"Prouter will be in for sure," Peters said. "He played real well when he went down to the American League and he's come back so we want to get him in some games, get him into a rhythm. They're a big strong team, a heavy team, a lot of o-zone grind time ... he defends real well, a heavy body up front. We'll get him in and get him going again."

Austin Czarnik also will see ice time in a return to the Calgary lineup. In 17 games, he has one goal and four points.

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