CALGARY, Alberta -- Glenn Gulutzan may secretly wish he could check his team into a hotel the night before home games now through the end of the season to simulate road trips.
The first-year Calgary Flames coach hasn't been able to solve the mystery of how to get his own team to play well at home. They are a mediocre 13-12-0 at the Scotiabank Saddledome thus far and leaving
home points on the table may prove costly come playoff time.
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"I know we feel less pressure on the road and we play a simpler game," the Flames head coach said. "That's all I can say.
"At home we seem to wait to see if we're going or not instead of forcing the issue. We have to find a way to rid ourselves of that."
They get another chance Saturday night when provincial rival Edmonton Oilers travel down the Queen Elizabeth II Highway for an 8 p.m. Mountain time start.
Both teams have been victimized this week by the Nashville Predators, who beat the Flames 4-3 on Thursday and the Oilers 3-2 in a shootout on Friday, which stopped Edmonton's winning streak at four games.
The Predators jumped on the Flames for four straight goals on Thursday and hung on for the win, forcing Gulutzan to once again explain a bad outing and face questions why the Flames can put together a stretch of good play.
"We're bouncing around a bit right now. It's hard to explain. You'd think we weren't in a playoff race and that's how we're playing. We've got to realize where we're at," Gulutzan said.
The Flames are 24-21-3 overall and are fourth in the Pacific Division. Edmonton is 12-7-5 on the road and 25-15-8 overall and tied for second with San Jose in the Pacific, seven points ahead of the Flames.
Chad Johnson will get the start in goal for Calgary despite not having a great night Thursday.
"This time of the year, your goalie has to step up and make a couple of breakaway saves," Johnson said. "If you let three or four goals in, it's not good enough in this league. I have to be better."
The Flames held a video session on Friday and an optional skate that brought the two goalies and four skaters to the ice, including Sam Bennett. The sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Bennett was a
healthy scratch for the first time in his career Thursday night and has nine goals and nine assists in 47 games.
Cam Talbot had a busy night in the Edmonton goal Friday, facing 42 shots in his 43rd start in 47 games and may get Saturday off.
There was some debate in Edmonton that head coach Todd McLellan would rest him against Nashville but he opted to send him back out to the net. McLellan said Friday afternoon he'd decide after the game whether American Hockey League call up Laurent Brossoit would start against Calgary.
"We'll worry about Calgary tomorrow," he said.
One positive note for Edmonton in the loss was expensive free agent signee Milan Lucic's first goal in 12 games, which tied the contest at 2-2 with less than five minutes remaining in regulation time. Lucic is
taking heat in Edmonton for not producing more and now has 11 goals.
"We all know (Milan) can change games with just his physicality. He did that tonight and we're going to need that," Edmonton winger Zack Kassian said.
Connor McDavid assisted on Lucic's goal and has a four-point lead in the NHL scoring table over Pittsburgh Penguins co-stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who each have 50 to the Oilers captain's 54.