It took some time, but the Calgary Flames are playing the way they expected to prior to the start of the season.
Looking to extend their season-high winning streak to eight games, the Flames also will aim to avenge an earlier loss to the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Western Conference's top team during the regular season in 2018-19, Calgary was a disappointing 10-12-3 over the first 25 games of this campaign. However, the Flames have managed to turn things around, despite an unexpected coaching change, to go 8-0-1 since and move to within two points of Pacific Division leader Arizona.
Calgary extended its winning streak to seven games by scoring three times in the final period to rally for a 4-2 home win over Toronto on Thursday. The Flames also improved to 6-0-0 under interim coach Geoff Ward, who replaced Bill Peters after he resigned amid allegations of past racial slurs and physical abuse toward players.
"Obviously, it wasn't the start we wanted for our team to start the season," star Flames star forward Johnny Gaudreau, who has four goals with two assists over the past six games, told NHL.com.
"Started fresh with (Ward), and we've been playing really well. We've been playing really well and it's showing in our results."
Calgary, which last won eight straight games during a 10-game win streak in 2016-17 and earned at least a point in 11 consecutive contests in 2017-18, has averaged 3.5 goals during its current winning streak. In addition to Gaudreau's solid play of late, Sean Monahan has been better while producing five goals and five assists over an eight-game point streak.
Rittich made 26 saves made as Calgary failed to hold a 1-0 third-period lead in its 2-1 loss at Carolina on Oct. 29. Andrei Svechnikov scored twice in the third period for the Hurricanes, who snapped a two-game skid vs. the Flames.
Though Carolina's three-game winning streak ended Thursday at Vancouver, it still earned a point in the 1-0 overtime loss. Petr Mrazek, who made 28 saves versus Calgary in October, stopped 25 shots as the Hurricanes were stymied after scoring six goals in each of their previous two contests.
Still, Carolina players said the effort didn't lack even if the production did.
"It's the way we want to play," veteran center Jordan Staal, who had his three-game point streak snapped Thursday, told the Hurricanes' official website.
"It's what we want to do. If we do that 82 games a year, we're going to like where we're at. The boys played hard and created a lot of opportunities and chances."
Carolina's leader with 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists), Svechnikov recorded two goals with three assists in three games prior to Thursday. Mrazek, meanwhile, has a 1.63 goals-against average while going 2-0-1 over his past three starts.
Hurricanes backup James Reimer has a 2.01 goals-against average in winning four of his past five starts.
--Field Level Media