NHL

Canadiens, Flames riding winning streaks

CALGARY, Alberta -- Glen Gulutzan was less than pleased with the Calgary Flames the last time they faced the Montreal Canadiens.

The Calgary coach didn't have kind words for his players after the Flames lost 5-1 to the Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Jan. 24.

"We were pathetic," said Gulutzan after the game. "It was a pathetic display. No bite-back, no kickback ... our top guys didn't do anything and we need somebody to step up."

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His message obviously sunk in as the Flames (36-26-4) have gone 12-2-1 since his tirade, including their current stretch of seven wins in a row.

"We're healthy and rested and we have no excuses," said Gulutzan after his team practiced on Wednesday ahead of their rematch against the Canadiens at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday night. "We need a good push here for the last 16 (games)."

On a six-game winning streak of their own, the Canadiens (38-21-8) are thriving under new coach Claude Julien, who took over after Michel Therrien was fired last month.

"Every team gets themselves on a streak and we're going to be playing one tomorrow who's doing the same thing," Julien told reporters on Wednesday. "You have ups and downs during the season, but right now the guys are feeling good about their game. I like the way we're competing right now. We're really working hard."

Both teams feature goaltenders who are on hot streaks of their own. Calgary's Brian Elliott has compiled a 7-0-1 in his past eight games, while Montreal's Carey Price has gone 6-1-0 in his last seven starts.

"You're always trying to strive to be better and I think our work ethic's definitely improved over the last couple weeks," said Price, while adding that Julien has brought the best out in all the players. "I just think we're playing better -- everybody is. I can't put a thumb on it, but we've responded well to the change."

Left winger Max Pacioretty has been impressed with the attitude in the dressing room during Montreal's current winning streak.

"Guys are always looking for that perfection, but they'll never get it and that's what keeps us hungry as players, both in our individual game and as a team," said Pacioretty, who knows that the Flames have had a similar secret to their recent success. "They're definitely a hard-working group and a team that's had success like that as of late is dangerous. We can only worry about ourselves and worry about our game and that's the way we've gotten better."

Flames right winger Michael Frolik said he and his teammates are just trying to do everything they can to keep their hot streak alive.

"When you get a good thing going, you want to kind of keep it going," said Frolik. "Every single point matters right now and we just need to make sure we keep going. In this league, it's thin ice there between being good and being bad. You just want to make sure you stay on the right side of it and we're doing a good job of that."

Center Mikael Backlund agreed with Frolik's assessment.

"You want to keep pushing and getting better and putting ourselves in an even better spot," said Backlund, who has played well on a line with Frolik and rookie left winger Matthew Tkachuk.