Preview: Flames vs. Senators
The Calgary Flames had been playing well of late, making their most recent loss to one of the league's worst teams all the more surprising.
In the midst of a seven-game road trip, Calgary looks to get back on track with its ninth victory in 11 tries over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
The Flames (18-16-4) had won four straight - including victories over Detroit and Vancouver - prior to a 3-1 loss Thursday to the New York Islanders, who occupy last place in the Eastern Conference.
Calgary hadn't allowed more than two goals during its winning streak.
Tim Jackman scored less than two minutes into the game, but the Flames couldn't hold the lead and gave up the winning goal early in the third period.
"Our compete level wasn't at the level where it needs to be," coach Brent Sutter said.
The trip doesn't get much easier with dates against Nashville on Sunday, Washington on Tuesday and Boston on Thursday before returning home.
Though the Flames fell to the Senators 3-1 in the most recent meeting Nov. 15, they have won eight of the last 10 matchups, including three of four in Ottawa.
The Senators (17-15-5) come in having lost two straight, including a 6-2 blowout against Montreal on Tuesday to end a three-game home winning streak.
Zack Smith and Jason Spezza scored for Ottawa, which outshot Montreal 35-28.
"They had four guys back, they chipped the puck and played really simple, and I didn't think we had the legs really to give the kind of push we can and create the havoc we can," said captain Daniel Alfredsson, whose next goal will be the 400th of his career. "We did create some chances but not enough to make up for the goals we gave up,"
Alfredsson had an assist Tuesday to give him 10 points over his last six games, though he has only one goal and one assist in his last eight games versus Calgary.
Craig Anderson allowed four goals on seven shots and was pulled a little over two minutes into the second period against Montreal, dropping to 3-4-1 with a 3.37 goals-against average in his last eight starts.
Coach Paul MacLean said he won't decide until the Friday morning skate if Anderson or Alex Auld will start in net, but Anderson made 38 saves in the November victory over the Flames after he had gone 0-3-0 with a 3.58 GAA in his previous four starts against them.
Miikka Kiprusoff made 31 saves in Calgary's loss on Thursday, marking his first defeat in four starts.
He made 29 saves in the first meeting against the Senators. Despite the loss, he's 7-2-0 with a 2.29 GAA in his career versus Ottawa.
Sutter, though, said he will go with Leland Irving on Friday, giving the rookie his third career start. Irving, who is 1-0-1 with a 1.44 GAA, earned his first NHL victory by making 29 saves in a 3-1 victory over Vancouver on Dec. 23.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla is two goals shy of 500 for his career, though he hasn't scored in his last five games against Ottawa.