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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET21:00 BRT, February 27, 2019
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey  Attendance: 12,019

Flames bring 6-game win streak to New Jersey

Calgary Flames at New Jersey Devils

  1. The Flames beat the Islanders, 3-1, on Long Island last night, their sixth consecutive win, and third straight game allowing one goal. It's their first time accomplishing that since a three-game streak from April 3-7, 2014.
  2. Matthew Tkachuk snapped a 14-game goal drought, finding the back of the net for the first time since a four-game goal streak culminated on January 16. He's now reached 25 goals for the first time in his three-year career. Just eight of those 25 have come on the road.
  3. Calgary has won three straight against New Jersey overall, and is 4-1-0 in its last five road games against the Devils. Three of those four wins have been by one goal, including a 3-2 win in the Flames' trip to Newark last season.
  4. The Devils beat the Canadiens, 2-1, at home on Monday, their fourth win in their last five home games, improving to 17-10-5 overall at home this season. That stands in stark comparison to their 8-20-3 road record, second worst in the league (Ottawa, 8-22-1).
  5. Cory Schneider made 34 saves in the win against Montreal, tied for his most in game this season (also February 17 vs. Buffalo). Schneider has wins in four of his last five appearances after failing to get a win in 24 consecutive appearances.
  6. The Flames are the most improved team in the league this season by record, upping their points-won percentage from .512 last season to .690 this season (+.178). The Devils have dropped from .591 to .460; that .131 decrease is the third biggest in the league, behind Los Angeles (-.177) and Anaheim (-.164).
Anaheim Ducks' Carter Rowney, left, is checked by Calgary Flames' Garnet Hathaway during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Calgary Flames are finding their form on defense, perhaps in time to mount a serious run at the Stanley Cup.

The New Jersey Devils won't be raising any trophies this spring, but they will spend the remainder of a rebuilding season finding out whether they have the goalies to anchor a playoff-caliber defense in the future.

A pair of teams coming off stout defensive efforts will square off Wednesday night when the Devils host the Flames in Newark, N.J.

The red-hot Flames, who have won six straight, will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set after beating the host New York Islanders 3-1 on Tuesday night in Uniondale, N.Y. The Devils were off Tuesday after edging the visiting Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on Monday night.

The win over the Islanders represented the latest impressive defensive effort by the Western Conference-leading Flames, who lead the San Jose Sharks by five points in the race for the Pacific Division crown and the top seed in the West.

The Flames have allowed one goal in each of the last three games and two goals or fewer in five straight games. Immediately prior to the winning streak, Calgary endured a 1-4-1 stretch in which it gave up four or more goals four times.

"I just think we're obviously finding ways to win close games, but we're doing it the right way," Flames goalie Mike Smith said after he earned the victory against the Islanders by making 26 saves. "I think we've played real solid defensively -- I don't know how many (games) it's been now, but we're getting rewarded because of it."

The Devils have yet to discover that defensive consistency. New Jersey, which has surrendered the fourth-most goals in the NHL, has won four of its past six games. The Devils allowed one goal or none in three of the wins but at least four goals in both of the losses.

The best defensive efforts by the Devils generally have coincided with the games in which Cory Schneider has appeared in net. Schneider went almost 14 months between regular-season victories before coming off the bench and earning the win by stopping all 15 shots he faced Feb. 15, when New Jersey stormed back from a three-goal, second-period deficit to edge the Minnesota Wild 5-4 in overtime.

Schneider is 3-1-0 in his past four starts, a stretch in which he has recorded one shutout and allowed more than one goal just once. The Devils felt comfortable enough with the progress shown by Schneider -- who battled hip and abdominal injuries during his regular-season win drought -- to trade Keith Kinkaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday and recall rookie Mackenzie Blackwood to serve as Schneider's backup.

Blackwood went 6-4-0 with a pair of shutouts during Schneider's absence earlier this year. The last 5 1/2 weeks of the season will serve as a chance for the Devils to find out if they have their goaltending in place for 2019-20 and beyond.

"If Cory continues to build his game the way that he's building it and getting himself back into form, that's a real big step for him and for us," Devils coach John Hynes said Monday night. "And I think the opportunity now that we have opened the door for Mackenzie to come in and be a full-time National Hockey League player for the rest of the season and get his opportunities to play.

"You look at our schedule down the stretch, we have some pretty big-time teams, pretty tough teams, pretty difficult teams to play against, and both guys are going to get an opportunity to play."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 27, 2019

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