THE CANADIAN PRESS
Saturday, December 15, 2018
CALGARY The Calgary Flames bounced from humiliation into first place in their division in a few short weeks.
Since an embarrassing 9-1 loss at home Oct. 25 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flames have gone 15-5-2. A 32-point haul in that span is second only to the Tampa Bay Lightning (36).
Giving up eight unanswered goals and getting booed at Scotiabank Saddledome is arguably the best thing that happened to the Flames in the first third of this season.
"That was a long night," head coach Bill Peters recalled on Friday. "You never want go through that as a player, as a coach and as an organization and to go through it at home is even worse probably.
"I think it was a real good wake-up call for our guys. I'd rather lose that game and go on a good positive streak than win and go 50-50, lose one and win one and lose one."
Calgary (20-10-2) tops the Pacific Division and is tussling with the Nashville Predators (21-10-1) and Winnipeg Jets (20-9-2) for first in the Western Conference.
According to the Flames, the last time the team held the conference lead this late into the season was Jan. 5, 1993.
Calgary maintained its momentum into December despite Michael Frolik (lower body), defencemen Mike Stone (blood clot) and Juusu Valimaki (lower body) out of the lineup for the past 10 games, and centre Mikael Backlund (upper body) sidelined the past three.
Backlund skated on Friday and Peters thought it possible the Swede could return to the lineup for either Saturday's game in Minnesota or Sunday's in St.
Louis. The top line of Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and off-season acquisition Elias Lindholm has produced 25 goals in Calgary's last 14 games.