NHL Hockey

Flames seek to fire up offense against Ducks

The good news for the Calgary Flames is they've clinched home-ice advantage for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The bad news is that the Western Conference leaders have lost two straight games - both at home.

The ugly news is that Calgary Flames (47-23-7, 101 points) have managed just one goal in those defeats. It's not an ideal way to be gearing up for the playoff chase. There are major issues to be rectified, beginning with Friday's home clash with the Anaheim Ducks.

"We've got to get used to playing in games like this, that's how it's going to be," captain Mark Giordano said after his club's 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. "Very rarely do you see high-scoring games in the playoffs. Once in a while it happens, but for the most part they're low-scoring, close games."

Those looking for the positives can point to the fact the Flames fired 78 shots on net in their last two losses. However, they weren't defeated by all-world goaltending performances and they know it. Too many pucks have been fired from the perimeter and too few rebound offerings have been created.

"Our level of desperation needs to increase, across the board," head coach Bill Peters said.

"It's going to be harder (at this time of year). You see teams that are dialed in, play head-to-head, there's not a lot of easy offense. There's offense that can be generated, but all five guys have to work in unison to do it."

The Ducks arrive in Calgary coming off a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. Anaheim (32-36-10, 74 points) has been eliminated from playoff contention but is enjoying the role of spoiler down the stretch, riding a 4-1-1 run.

Moreover, the Ducks are seeing strong performance from their future stars. Last game, it was Sam Steel who provided a glimpse of what he can become. Steel, the 21-year-old first-round pick from the 2016 draft, became just the second Ducks rookie to net a hat trick. His third goal came on a penalty shot, too.

"It's a big night," said Steel, who has five points in his last three games. "To get it with the team winning, it's pretty special. Definitely something I'll remember."

As well, Rickard Rakell has broken out of his seemingly season-long scoring funk by collecting four goals in his last three games to get him to 15 on the season. It's a far cry from the 34 he posted last year, but a step forward before the season ends.

Whatever has Rakell finding the twine, the Flames may consider asking him for it. Some of Calgary's struggling forwards must find their late-season and playoff goal-scoring touch, although there are some obvious solutions.

"You can get a lot of looks throughout a game, but you don't count looks on the scoreboard. You've got to get to the crease. That's how you score goals," said top-line center Sean Monahan, who has scored just two goals in 19 games. "This is an important time of the year. I'm trying to gear up and get ready for the playoffs and get my game as sharp as I can."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 28, 2019

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