Preview: Flames vs. Ducks
FLAMES (24-22-6) at DUCKS (19-24-8)
TV: SNET-W (HD), PRIME (HD)
Last 10: Calgary 6-3-1; Anaheim 6-2-2.
Season Series: This is the second of four season meetings. The first, a goalie duel on Jan. 12 in Calgary, ended when Blair Jones beat Jonas Hiller 1:51 into overtime for a 1-0 Flames win. Calgary will try to win for the first time in 13 regular-season road games against Anaheim.
Big Story: Two games into a four-game homestand, the NHL's hottest team during the month of January has stalled. Anaheim has lost two straight – including its most recent game against League-worst Columbus – and will look for a return to the form that rescued them from the bottom of the West. The Flames, four points shy of the final playoff spot, kick off a three-game road trip in search of valuable away points.
Flames: After a stretch of three straight home losses born of a prolonged scoring drought, Calgary finally found the nets Friday against Chicago. The teams went into the first intermission tied at one, but the Flames got deciding goals over the final two periods from Jay Bouwmeester and Jarome Iginla to provide the separation. Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff shut the door on one of the League's top offenses, conceding just one goal for the fourth time in six starts.
The two points pulled Calgary to within four points of eighth-place Minnesota, and Iginla said his Flames were confident.
"More than anything, we just have to climb," Iginla said. "We have to get ourselves on a roll here. We know we need to get over 90 points. We know we need to get on a streak here. It's important to get the winning feeling going and climb. We think we can make it."
Ducks: Anaheim, criticized all season for struggling despite a bevy of offensive talent, spent January debunking those detractors. But after going 9-2-1 with 41 goals scored in the month, Anaheim opened February – and a four-game homestand – with two straight losses. Dallas topped the Ducks 6-2 on Wednesday before the hapless Blue Jackets stole a 3-2 overtime win on Friday night.
Teemu Selanne scored twice for the Ducks in regulation and had a chance in overtime, but Derick Brassard’s unassisted slapper seconds after Selanne's near miss sealed it for the Blue Jackets. Despite coming away with a point, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau emphasized the importance of collecting as many points as possible.
"Giving up a lead at any point is aggravating," Boudreau said. "It's not like we gave up a four-goal lead. It was a one-goal lead and one shot. But at this stage of the game, every little thing like that gets magnified and it's upsetting."
Who's Hot: Selanne has two goals and an assist in his last two games. … Olli Jokinen has a goal and 4 assists over his last five games.
Injury Report: For Calgary, wingers Curtis Glencross (knee), Lee Stempniak (high-ankle sprain) and David Moss (foot) and defenseman Derek Smith (ankle) are all on injured reserve. … In Anaheim, goalie Dan Ellis said Saturday that his timetable for return from a groin tear, of four weeks, is "on the low end." Devante Smith-Pelly has resumed skating after breaking a bone in his foot during late-December's World Junior Championships.
Stat Pack: Kiprusoff's importance to Calgary's playoff chances cannot be overstated. He has played in the fourth-most games (45) of any goalie, and his .920 save percentage is in the top half of the League and improving. He's got the same save percentage in 24 starts versus Anaheim, with a 12-8 record and a 2.37 goals-against average.
Puck Drop: Anaheim went 1-for-5 on the power play Friday, only able to score once in nine minutes of man advantage. With talent like Bobby Ryan and Saku Koivu left off the top power-play unit, the Ducks are still searching for an effective combination.
"For the most part, we're too cute," he said. "We try to make the perfect play. In recent memory, the goals we've scored on it are the ones that (when) we shoot, we get rebounds. We converge on the net. And those are the ones that you end up scoring goals on."