First place in the Pacific Division may be unrealistic.
But suddenly the idea of home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs doesn’t seem like a far-fetched idea for the Calgary Flames, winners of six consecutive games following a 3-2 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.
The Flames are now at 74 points, which is two back of both the Anaheim Ducks — winners versus Toronto on Friday — and the idle Edmonton Oilers, as those teams battle for second and third in the division.
Calgary has suddenly marched right into the thick of this race, which represents quite a turnaround from earlier in the season when there was actually talk about Glen Gulutzan’s future, despite this being his first season with the Flames.
(The Flames are also six points up on L.A. in the wild card.)
On a team that features Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, it has been Mikael Backlund emerging as the team’s leading scorer to this point. He continued what will be by far his most productive NHL campaign — 20 goals and 46 points in 65 games — with the overtime winner, breaking down the left wing and ripping a shot by Petr Mrazek.
That puts Backlund in impressive company in Flames history.
“It’s cool to score 20 goals, of course, in this league. It’s something to take pride in,” said Backlund, per the Calgary Sun. “But the biggest thing is we won the game tonight. We want to keep pushing. We want to make playoffs. That’s the main thing. That’s all I care about — making the playoffs again. It was awesome last time, so I want to get back to that.”
The Flames, looking for a seventh straight win, host the New York Islanders on Sunday.