Ferland looks to stay hot as Flames host Penguins
CALGARY, Alberta -- Micheal Ferland started the season playing on a line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau.
The 25-year-old Calgary forward then lost his spot on the Flames' top line when coach Glen Gulutzan decided to put Jaromir Jagr on the right side with Monahan and Gaudreau.
Since Jagr missed the past four games with a lower-body injury, Ferland found himself back playing with his familiar linemates, and he made the most of it by producing two goals and one assist.
Ferland will look to continue his recent success Thursday night when the Flames host the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Even in the last couple practices, you feel more comfortable with the puck," said Ferland, who scored one goal in his first seven games before the reunion. "You feel more poised to make plays. You're not gripping your stick and forcing plays. I think, as a player, confidence is huge."
Meanwhile, the Flames (6-6-0) will be hoping to build on their 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Sunday in which Ferland and Monahan scored to end Calgary's four-game home losing streak.
"We are going to approach it the exact same way," Gulutzan said. "We have to be a real tight five-on-five group to play against a high-power team like Pittsburgh. I thought we did a tremendous job against Washington. That same game plan, other than a few tweaks, will be in effect."
Although the Flames placed center Freddie Hamilton on waivers on Wednesday, Jagr won't make his return to Calgary's lineup against the Penguins, whom he played for from 1990 to 2001.
"He's still day-to-day," Gulutzan said of Jagr. "He felt good (Tuesday) and he felt pretty good (Wednesday), but he's just not quite there yet."
The Penguins, after dropping two straight decisions to start their current five-game road swing, bounced back with a pulsating 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
Matt Murray made 35 saves, improving his record to 8-2-1 after stopping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a breakaway with less than 20 seconds remaining.
"I'm just trying to stay loose, and I know they're going to throw a lot of pucks to the net and get a lot of bodies there, especially late when they're trying to tie it up," Murray said.
Pittsburgh (8-5-1) recovered Wednesday after losing 7-1 in Winnipeg on Sunday.
"We're more concerned about the process, just trying to play the game the right way and the attention to detail, becoming more difficult to play against," said Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan, whose team is 7-2-1 in one-goal games. "I thought we were (against the Oilers)."
The Penguins have not experienced much success in the second half of back-to-back games this season. They are 0-4-0 in those games and are getting outscored 29-7.
"Our back-to-backs haven't been good," said Pittsburgh right winger Patric Hornqvist, who snapped a six-game pointless streak with a goal against the Oilers. "Let's go back to basics and work for each other. Make sure we win those 50-50 pucks and make sure to have fun, too."
Whether or not he gets his sixth straight start in net, Murray said the Penguins can't complain about the number of times they have had to play on back-to-back nights so far this season.
"It's out of our control, we don't decide the schedule," Murray said. "We're not going to sit here and complain about back-to-backs, we're not going to complain about too many days off. It is what it is. You approach every game the same."
Sullivan could choose to go with backup goalie Tristan Jarry between the pipes against Calgary. The Penguins recalled Jarry from the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday.
Updated November 2, 2017