Flames-Sabres Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 13, 2013
Though the Calgary Flames recently had two major off-ice departures, a pair of key additions on the ice could help them continue to turn things around. A game after Curtis Glencross returned, the Flames could be getting Sean Monahan back Saturday when they seek their first road win over the Buffalo Sabres in almost 18 years. Calgary's latest game came hours after president of hockey operations Brian Burke fired general manager Jay Feaster and assistant John Weisbrod on Thursday. Burke took over as interim GM. Though the moves came as a shock to most of the team, the Flames (12-15-4) responded by winning for the fourth time in six games, 2-1 in overtime over Carolina. Karri Ramo made 29 saves and denied the Hurricanes' Jeff Skinner on a penalty shot in the third period before defenseman Chris Butler scored the winner. "We reacted the right way (to the front-office shakeup). A lot of things in the game are out of your control," said enforcer Brian McGrattan, who scored the Flames' first goal. "You can only control the things that you do and that's how hard you work and how good your attitude is." Glencross, who has five goals and four assists in 16 games, returned from a 15-game absence due to a knee injury. Calgary could be getting another key player back as early as Saturday. Monahan appears close to a return after getting back on the ice earlier this week. The 2013 first-round draft pick ranks second among rookies with nine goals despite being out since Nov. 27 due to a broken foot. The short-handed Flames have produced only 17 goals over their last eight games, but they've gotten a much-improved effort in their own end. They allowed an NHL-high 3.64 goals per game through the first 25 but have given up nine in the past six. Ramo has gone 3-1-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average in his last four starts, while Reto Berra has turned away 52 of 55 shots in two starts this month. It's uncertain who will get the nod in the first of back-to-back contests to open a five-game road swing, though either player should have a good chance to earn the team's first victory in Buffalo since March 15, 1996. Calgary has gone 0-5-3 with one tie - losing eight straight by a 28-12 margin - in its last nine visits. NHL-worst Buffalo (7-23-2), however, has scored 54 goals - by far the fewest in the league this season. The Sabres have been especially inept in the offensive zone of late, scoring 14 times while losing nine of 11. They finished with a season-high 41 shots Thursday but only Tyler Ennis could convert in a 2-1 loss at Ottawa. Ennis has scored in three of his past four games. "We just gotta get maybe a little bit more net presence for some of those shots to take away the eyes of the goaltender so he can't see it as well," interim coach Ted Nolan told the team's official website. "But overall, the guys are competing and they're working." Leading scorer Cody Hodgson is expected to be a game-time decision due to an undisclosed ailment that forced him out Thursday. Buffalo's Ryan Miller has gone 2-2-0 with a 1.98 GAA in his last four starts. The Sabres have won two of three at home after winning twice in their first 14 games there.
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