Blue Jackets-Flames Preview
While one win doesn't necessarily signal the start of a turnaround, the Calgary Flames are desperate for positives right now.
Playing without another key defenseman certainly wouldn't qualify.
Calgary tries to put together consecutive victories for the first time in over a month Friday night when it hosts the league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets.
One the same day they learned they could be without defenseman Dennis Wideman for the next 20 games due to a league suspension, the Flames (22-24-3) ended a three-game skid Wednesday with a 4-1 win over Carolina. Sean Monahan had his first career four-point performance on a goal and three assists, and Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau scored 38 seconds apart in the second period.
''It can get frustrating when you're getting chances and they're not going in,'' said Monahan, who had three points in his previous 14 games. ''But I try to focus on the little things and when I'm playing my best, I'm winning faceoffs, playing well in my own zone and that's when you generate the most offense.''
Gaudreau finished with a goal and an assist, extending his home point streak to five games. He's tallied 18 of his 21 goals and 36 of his team-leading 49 points at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Calgary won for only the third time in 10 games (3-6-1) and improved to 3-5-0 in its last eight at home since a franchise-record 11-game win streak there.
''After that tough road trip we had where we don't succeed and produce like we want to,'' Monahan said, ''you get that (All-Star) break and you refresh your mind and you refresh your legs and you just put it behind you and get going again.''
Already without Wideman, the Flames now face the potential absence of defenseman TJ Brodie, who left early in the second period Wednesday after taking a slap shot off his knee. Brodie, who averages a team-high 25:08 of ice time and ranks fifth with 25 points, didn't practice Thursday.
"It would be a real challenge for us," center Matt Stajan told the team's official website. "No one is going to replace TJ Brodie. We'd have guys that would have to step up and guys are up for the challenge. It would be as a team."
The Flames have already seen the negative effect Brodie's absence can have. They went 2-7-0 without him in the first nine games of the season while he was sidelined with a broken right hand.
If Brodie is unable to play, Jakub Nakladal would likely make his NHL debut.
Columbus (20-28-5) rallied for a 2-1 shootout victory at Vancouver on Thursday for its third win in four games. Alexander Wennberg scored the lone goal in the tiebreaker to make a winner out of Joonas Korpisalo, who was outstanding with 37 saves.
It was a bounce-back performance after the Blue Jackets returned from the All-Star break and allowed four second-period goals in a 5-1 loss at Edmonton on Tuesday.
That was the only game in his last seven starts that Korpisalo surrendered more than two goals. The rookie is 5-1-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average during that span.
''He's unflappable as far as his mental toughness,'' coach John Tortorella said. ''Just a great experience for him as far as what he is doing for the club and for him as far as his confidence.''
If Korpisalo rests, Anton Forsberg would make his first appearance since a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Jan. 12.
Calgary ended a three-game series losing streak with a 4-2 victory at Columbus on Jan. 21 behind a pair of goals from Sam Bennett. The Flames are 0-1-4 in their last five home games against the Jackets.