It would be easy to say the Canes' 5-0 loss at Calgary last month was "one of those games” and leave it at that. Just a bad night at the rink.
But there was more to it than that.
"They're a good skating team and they definitely skated us that night," Canes center Jay McClement said Monday. "We got caught a little bit flat-footed and didn't have the same jump as them, and they kind of beat us at our own game.
"That's kind of the style we've started to play since then. We hadn't really found our game then and I think we've found it a little bit now. We've found the way we need to play and have played it pretty consistently since that road trip."
Flattened in Calgary on Oct. 23, the Canes played much better in Edmonton the next night and the eventual 6-3 victory by the Oilers was decided late and the final score misleading. Canes coach Bill Peters believes the turnaround began that night, that the Canes played respectably well in a 4-1 loss to Vancouver to end the trip and have since been 4-0-1.
"We've got more tempo to our game, more speed, more pace," Peters said Monday. "Puck speed, foot speed, some better gap speed. And overall just some better compete."
The Canes (4-6-3) get another chance against the Flames (9-5-2) on Monday night. Cam Ward will be back in net, having won his last four games with a 1.48 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.
Defenseman Brett Bellemore has an upper-body injury and will miss the game. Peters said he wasn't sure about the availability of John-Michael Liles or Tim Gleason, who has been out the past two games with an upper-body injury.
Liles and Gleason both went through the morning skate, and Michal Jordan was recalled from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) on Monday as an extra D-man.
The lines at Monday's morning skate had Eric Staal centering Jeff Skinner and Alex Semin; Riley Nash centering Nathan Gerbe and Elias Lindholm; Victor Rask at center with Chris Terry and Jiri Tlusty, and Jay McClement with Zach Boychuk and Pat Dwyer. Brad Malone is the extra forward.
Defensive pairs were Andrej Sekera-Justin Faulk, Jay Harrison-Gleason and Liles-Ron Hainsey.
Asked about the Flames, Peters said, "Everyone knows their identity. They're one of those teams now that does have an identity. We're a team that's still searching for an identity.
"They're a quick team, they work hard. They've got good goaltending. They're dynamic on the back end. … That leads to a quick transition game and they work. Any time you work, you give yourselves a chance."