Flames vow to be ‘a lot better’ in Sunday’s clash with Hurricanes

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The Calgary Flames won’t have much time to sulk or stew after Saturday’s blowout loss in Florida.

When the final buzzer sounded, putting a stop to a 5-1 pummelling from the Panthers, the Flames immediately turned their focus to a showdown Sunday with another Stanley Cup favourite.

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“When you don’t play your best or you’re not happy with the end result, it’s nice to bounce right back and get back at it,” Flames rearguard Brayden Pachal told reporters in Florida. “So that’s the goal. We’re going to learn from our mistakes today and carry it into tomorrow and come out with a better effort.

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“You’re going to see a lot better out of all of us tomorrow.”

That’s a necessity.

Because, fair or not, the hockey world will be wondering if Saturday’s shellacking from the Panthers is the first sign that the Flames are about the plummet out of the playoff chase, that the most recent roster subtractions are simply too much to overcome.

They’re rarely outworked, and that wasn’t the problem in Florida, either. In this case, they were outmatched.

It would be crazy to count ’em out after one lopsided loss, but it does crank the pressure Sunday as they wrap this three-game road-trip against the Carolina Hurricanes (3 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan). Already scrapping to stay relevant in the Western Conference wildcard race, they can’t afford even the shortest slide.

“You need to have a short memory,” stressed defenceman Daniil Miromanov after his first appearance in the Flaming C. “Just gotta fix our mistakes, fix the details and be ready to go against Carolina. It’s another great team, so … ”

Calgary Flames vs. Florida Panthers.
Florida Panthers goaltender Anthony Stolarz stops the shot by Calgary Flames forward Jonathan Huberdeau at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday, March 9, 2024. Photo by Joel Auerbach /Getty Images

The Flames have, give ’em credit, been a handful/a headache for some of the NHL’s top troupes.

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Saturday started off that way, too. While the Panthers sit atop the overall standings, they were the second-best team on the ice in the opening period at Amerant Bank Arena.

The Cats didn’t so much swipe the momentum as it was handed to them. A gruesome giveaway by Jonathan Huberdeau — even an ace playmaker shouldn’t be flinging a saucer pass through the slot in his own zone — put the hosts ahead in the first minute of the middle frame. For the remainder of the afternoon, it was tied for a grand total of 28 seconds.

Huberdeau wasn’t the only guy guilty of a costly turnover. MacKenzie Weegar, another ex-Panther, coughed up two.

Bob Hartley had a go-to joke on days like this, something about a bakery.

“We’ve been playing well against good teams,” reminded Flames captain Mikael Backlund during a post-game media scrum. “But today, I thought we got away from our game in the second and they made us pay.

“It felt like it was every shift almost there was a turnover in the defensive zone or at our blue-line or their blue-line. They were hungry on it and jumping on it.

“We have to bounce back. Big game tomorrow again.”

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MEET THE NEW GUY

Miromanov can really rip it.

Just ask Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues, who departed Saturday’s contest after blocking one of his heavy slappers — right off the inside of his left ankle.

“He has a wicked shot from up top,” said Pachal, who played alongside Evan Rodrigues in the Vegas Golden Knights’ system. “He’s powerful, accurate and generates and a lot of offence.”

While he was held off the scoresheet, the new guy in No. 62 made a positive first impression against the Panthers.

Miromanov, acquired as part of the swap that sent Noah Hanifin to Sin City, finished with three shots on net and an even rating.

The 26-year-old was also auditioning on the Flames’ second power-play unit.

“I thought he got better as the game went on,” assessed head coach Ryan Huska. “He’s a different type of defenceman than you’re used to seeing. He’s very composed, and you can tell he is pretty calm under pressure.”

OFF THE GLASS

The Flames won’t be staying awake to watch Saturday’s late dates, so they will check Sunday morning to find out if they’re still six points back of the final wildcard or if that gap has been stretched to eight. They have 19 games remaining to make up ground … This wasn’t exactly a happy homecoming for Weegar, who spent parts of six seasons with the Panthers. He was saddled with a minus-4 rating, equalling his worst mark in his 450 appearances at the NHL level … Yegor Sharangovich was Calgary’s lone marksman. With 26 goals, he and Blake Coleman are now tied for the team lead … Old friends Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk factored on Florida’s third tally. Bennett was credited with the tip, while Tkachuk registered a secondary assist.

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Calgary Flames vs. Florida Panthers
Florida Panthers goaltender Anthony Stolarz makes a save in front of Calgary Flames forward Blake Coleman at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday, March 9, 2024. Photo by Lynne Sladky /The Associated Press

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