Mon, 30 Jan 2023

Wild, Flames winning games but seek stronger performances

Field Level Media
07 Dec 2022, 10:19 GMT+10

With a four-game winning streak and victories in six of seven outings, the Minnesota Wild head to Calgary for Wednesday's road clash with the Flames feeling some confidence in their game.

Some confidence, but not brimming with it.

The Wild arrive in Canada on the heels of winning their last two games in rather inglorious fashion.

After requiring a late goal to force extra time in a 5-4 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, the Wild kicked off a four-game road swing with a crazier 6-5 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday. Minnesota staked a 5-1 lead in the first minute of the third period before watching it dissipate -- then recovering to win thanks to Frederick Gaudreau's shootout winner.

A win is a win, but those two didn't follow a script teams want.

"It was a roller coaster," forward Ryan Reaves said after beating the Stars. "Good teams, they find ways to battle back. Hats off to them, they're a good team and they're going to find ways to push and claw back in that game. We found a way to come up with a win."

Good clubs find victories during games in which they are not clicking on all cylinders. Helping Minnesota's case of late is the play of Kirill Kaprizov, who has scored in six consecutive games and is riding a 12-game point streak, during which he has collected 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists). The dozen-game run ties the franchise record.

The Flames will conclude a five-game homestand, during which they are 3-1-0, the latest win being Monday's 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

Like the Wild, the Flames are winning but hardly in the best manner. En route to beating the Coyotes, Calgary blew a 2-0 first-period lead before they regrouped when it mattered and netted their second power-play goal for the winner. Going into the clash, Calgary was on a dismal 2-for-21 run with the man advantage.

The Flames will look to win three straight games for the first time since the opening week of the season, proof of how much of a struggle it has been for a club that entered the season with high expectations.

"You've just got to stay with it and not get frustrated, and continue to try to work to improve and find areas of the game you can strengthen," said forward Nazem Kadri, who collected one goal and two assists against the Coyotes. "I feel like for a few games our penalty kill has done a great job bailing us out, so it's about time our power play did the same thing."

Who minds the twine for the Flames will be worth watching. While No. 1 goalie Jacob Markstrom has struggled, Dan Vladar has been strong when given the net in three of the last four games, winning all three starts.

However, the Flames need Markstrom, who was especially critical of himself after his last outing, to find his form. Being on the bench the last two outings could be what the doctor ordered.

"You need to have (a short memory) or else you're in the wrong occupation," Markstrom said after Tuesday's practice. "I didn't do very well in school, but it was really good on the ice."

--Field Level Media

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