Preview: Flames vs. Oilers
The Calgary Flames' recent surge has propelled them into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. If recent history is any indication, the Edmonton Oilers likely won't provide much of an obstacle.
Calgary seeks to extend its winning streaks in the Alberta rivalry to 10 straight overall and 11 in a row at home Tuesday night.
The Flames (28-22-9) improved to 5-0-3 in February with a 1-0 victory at Los Angeles on Saturday, pulling into a tie with the Kings for eighth place in the conference.
Michael Cammalleri scored in the third period, and Miikka Kiprusoff made 28 saves for his fourth shutout. Kiprusoff has allowed two goals or fewer in 11 of his last 16 starts, going 10-3-3 with a 1.65 goals-against average in that span.
"That could have been a different game if Kip's not great and we don't find a way to pull it together," said Jarome Iginla, who has scored in five of the last eight games.
Kiprusoff has been in net for each of the Flames' four wins over the Oilers this season, posting a 1.50 GAA. He's won each of his last nine starts against Edmonton with a 2.08 GAA in that stretch, and his 2.23 GAA for the season ranks ninth in the league.
"He's played as good as I've seen him play in his career - and that's counting the Vezina year (in 2005-06)," Iginla said. "He's been outstanding all year, and he's enjoying it - this climbing back up in the playoff race. So he's really into it. He doesn't mind that each game is tight because he loves to compete."
Iginla had three assists in Calgary's 5-3 road win over the Oilers on Dec. 3, then scored twice in a 3-0 home victory Dec. 10. His assist Jan. 21 in Edmonton helped the Flames to a 6-2 win, giving him seven goals and six assists over the last six matchups.
The only game in that stretch in which Iginla did not earn a point was a 2-1 win Oct. 18. Linemate Olli Jokinen has two goals and seven assists during a seven-game point streak versus the Oilers.
Edmonton (22-30-6) hasn't won in Calgary since a 4-3 victory Oct. 17, 2008, and isn't exactly rolling into town with momentum.
The Oilers fell 5-2 to Vancouver on Sunday, marking their third straight loss and fifth in the last six games. They have allowed the first goal in their last five contests.
"You can't play catch-up hockey in today's game," said Ryan Smyth, who has only a goal and four assists over his last 20 games. "You have to play with pride, play for your jersey and for your job."
Associate coach Ralph Krueger, who again filled in while coach Tom Renney recovers from a concussion, said the Oilers must come out with more energy if they are to turn things around.
"We have to be really disappointed with the start (Sunday)," Krueger said after the Canucks scored in the opening minute. "The game was almost out of reach right off the bat."
Devan Dubnyk replaced Nikolai Khabibulin, who left after the first period with a groin injury and is expected to miss at least a week.
Dubnyk has appeared in three games - two starts - versus the Flames this season and has a 2.20 GAA. He's never beaten Calgary, though, going 0-3-1 with a 3.44 GAA in five career appearances.