ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Calgary Flames hope to build on their first regular-season victory by breaking a record-setting losing streak when they face the gritty but shorthanded Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Monday.
The Flames (1-1-0) come-from-behind 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets Saturday sent them off to Southern California on a good note. T.J Brodie and Johnny Gaudreau each registered four points as the Flames rallied from a 3-1 first period deficit. Brodie’s performance, which tied a career high for points in a game, drew praise from coach Glen Gulutzan.
“T.J had a great training camp,” Gulutzan said. “His performance on the power play got us back in the game. We want to get back to our game as quickly as we can and I think the last 30 minutes represents the way we can play.”
Calgary has lost 29 straight games in Anaheim dating back to April 25, 2006, the longest such streak in NHL history and has not won a regular season game in Orange County since 2004. Its odds on breaking the steak are buoyed by the rash of injuries that has hit the Ducks roster.
Legendary winger Jaromir Jagr could make his Flames debut after signing a one-year deal on Oct. 3. After a few practices, Jagr pronounced himself ready to play but Gulutzan was not definitive after the Winnipeg victory.
“I’m going to have to go through the game again and see where (Jagr) and our other players are at,” Gulutzan said. “I’ll wait until I go through the video to figure out what the right lineup is for Anaheim.”
Anaheim (1-1-0) is trying to manage around early season injuries that have prominent players out of the lineup. It started the season knowing defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vanaten, and center Ryan Kesler would be weeks away from starting the season recovering from surgeries but took an additional blow as all-star center Ryan Getzlaf, winger Patrick Eaves and backup goaltender Ryan Miller failed to start the season. To add to its injury woes, winger Nick Ritchie was a scratch minutes before the Philadelphia win.
“It’s no secret, we are facing adversity early on,” center Antoine Vermette said. “We don’t want to create any excuses for ourselves. We believe in our group and know what we are capable of. In order to be successful, we are going to have to dig in and be well-structured, and work as a five man group.”
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle praised the effort of the healthy players on the roster who have helped the team register three out of a possible four points in their first two matches. While the commitment is there, he knows his team will have to be far better defensively in front of goaltender John Gibson to keep their home winning streak against Calgary intact.
“It is about the will of the individual participating but you can’t give up the number of quality chances we have,” Carlyle said. “Points are at a premium now, we doing as much as we can to garner points early in the season because at some point we will be concerned with playoff positioning, so it’s vital to our group.”