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Game 22: Sutter Comes Back

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The Matchup – The Calgary Flames (8-11-1) face off against the New Jersey Devils (6-13-2) at the Prudential Center. It is the first and only meeting between the two teams this season.

The Last Flames Game – The New York Rangers defeated the Flames, 2-1, Monday night at MSG. In a game filled with hard hits and rough play, goals were tough to come by. The Flames gave the Rangers a golden opportunity to take the lead when Curtis Glencross went of for high-sticking in the second period. Dan Girardi made the Flames pay, scoring the game-winner on that powerplay chance at 12:14 of the period.

The Last Devils Game – The Devils dismantled the Washington Capitals, 5-0, Monday night at the Rock. Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott and Mattias Tedenby scored first period goals to put the Devils ahead, 3-0. They wouldn’t look back, tallying two more in the first ten minutes of the middle period to take a 5-0 lead. Johan Hedberg finished with 30 saves for his 15th career shutout.

The Last Flames – Devils Game – The Flames defeated the Devils, 5-3, in Calgary. Zach Parise opened the game’s scoring at 13:37 of the first period, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead. It would stay that way until the second period, when the Flames came out red hot. Daymond Langkow evened the score, 1-1, at 1:43 of the second period. Glencross gave the Flames a lead, tallying a shorthanded goal at 5:41 of the period. Eric Nystrom continued the scoring, increasing the lead to two with a goal at 16:04 of the period.

The Flames weren’t done scoring. Matt Stajan continued the goal streak, increasing the lead to 4-1 at 9:29 of the third period. David Moss scored 33 seconds later to push the lead to 5-1. But the Devils wouldn’t go quietly into the night. Parise scored again, tallying a powerplay goal at 16:08 to bring the Devils within three goals, shrinking the Flames lead, 5-2. Ilya Kovalchuk brought the Devils to within two, scoring at 17:26 to shorten the Flames lead, 5-3.

But it would be too little too late, as the Devils couldn’t complete the comeback and defeat their former coach, Brent Sutter. Martin Brodeur stopped 20 shots in the loss. Mikka Kiprusoff made 22 saves for the win.

For a full recap, including historical data of the matchup, check our season preview post.

 Hello Old Friend – The Devils welcome back former coach Brent Sutter to the Rock. It’s the first time Sutter has visited the Prudential Center since leaving the organization at the end of the 2008-2009 season. Sutter, who wanted to leave the Devils to be closer to his family and the Red Deer Rebels, took the Flames coaching job shortly after leaving the Devils. The contract dripped of conspiracy, but Sutter maintains that he wasn’t looking for a coaching opportunity.

“Strictly put, I resigned here because of all the right reasons and if I wasn’t going to be coaching in Calgary, which was an opportunity because Lou gave them permission to talk to me, I wouldn’t have coached last year,” Sutter said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “I went home for the right reasons. I went home because it was the right thing to do because there are things bigger than the team. I made that decision based on that.”

Even if he did it for the right reasons, he’ll probably be booed tonight.

For the rest of the recap, read after the jump!

Tonight’s Matchup - The Devils played their best game Monday night against the Capitals. The passing was crisp, players were creative on the ice, and the team looked like the one we’d expected to see during the offseason. But that was Monday night. Today is a new game, and the effort needs to be there again. The Devils struggles in starting a winning streak are well documented, and to get back in the playoff race, the team needs to begin stringing these wins together.

One main focus tonight needs to be on Jarome Iginla. The Flames captain has been on fire (no pun intended) recently, with six goals in his last three games. Iginla can do it all for Calgary, so eliminating the captain should be top priority. Much like Alex Ovechkin, shutting him down puts pressure on other forwards and can help kill momentum. The Devils should use the same gameplan as they did for the Capitals, matching up the third line against the Flames top pairing.

The Devils also need to continue their aggressive and opportunistic play. On Monday night, New Jersey seemingly took advantage of every mistake and opportunity the Capitals gave them. The team forced turnovers, forechecking and backchecking throughout all three zones. That pressure helped slow down a potent Capitals offense, and it should effectively work against the Flames as well.

Finally, the Devils need to continue to show their desire to change things around. They’ve played well the past two games, but they can’t afford any clunkers now. Gaining points is a must, especially with two games upcoming against Atlantic Division opponents. Calgary isn’t a great Western Conference team, and the Devils should be able to handle them.

Gametime is 7:30 p.m. tonight, and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus 2 or WFAN 660 AM. Here is a rough guess on the line combinations for tonight’s game:

forwards
Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Alexander Vasyunov
Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby
Brian Rolston – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson
Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta
defenseman
Colin White – Henrik Tallinder
Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov
Mark Fayne/Olivier Magnan – Matt Corrente
netminder
Johan Hedberg
Mike McKenna 

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