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FLAMES (24-21-6) at PREDATORS (27-17-6)
TV: SNET-W (HD), FS-TN (HD)
Last 10: Calgary 6-1-3; Nashville 6-4-0
Season series: Third of four meetings this season. Calgary has won the first two. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 34 shots and Rene Bourque scored 2:10 into overtime for a 1-0 victory in Nashville on Oct. 19, and power-play goals by Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrison proved decisive in a 3-1 triumph at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 24.
Big story: A solid stretch leading into the All-Star break vaulted the Flames from next-to-last in the Western Conference to within two points of a playoff berth, while the Predators are currently fighting for home ice and play the majority of their remaining games at the Bridgestone Arena.
Flames: This is the start of an exciting month in Calgary, with the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic set for Feb. 20 at McMahon Stadium. Right now the Flames just want to continue the four-game winning streak they took into the break. In perhaps their best stretch of the season, they outscored their opponents 18-9, yielding just a single goal in the last two wins over the Predators and Blues.
"It's getting closer," Kiprusoff told the Calgary Sun. "I think the key thing is how we've been playing. If we keep it up, we're definitely going to be able to go up a few spots right away."
Predators: Sixteen road wins by Nashville leads the West, but the Predators will play 21 of their final 32 regular-season games on home ice. So although they are only four points ahead of the ninth-place Avalanche, the team should be looking up in the standings and not down, eyeing the Central Division-leading Red Wings who are only six points up on the Predators.
"We've been on the road the whole month (of January)," coach Barry Trotz told the Tennessean after the team posted a .500 record on a six-game road trip. "A big part of our tough schedule is done, but we have 32 tough games coming up."
Who's hot: Iginla and Morrison each have 3 goals and 2 assists during respective four-game points streaks for the Flames. David Moss has a pair of 2-goal, 3-point efforts in his last four games. Kiprusoff has won three straight with a .948 save percentage over that span. ... Shea Weber leads the Predators with 30 points and is coming off a 4-assist performance in the All-Star Game.
Injury report: Calgary's injured reserve list features defenseman Steve Staios (upper body) and forwards Daymond Langkow (neck) and Raitis Ivanans (concussion). ... Nashville defenseman Francis Bouillon (upper body) is day-to-day. Forward Marek Svatos (knee) is expected to miss two weeks. Forwards Matthew Lombardi (concussion), Steve Sullivan (lower body) and Cal O'Reilly (broken fibula) are on injured reserve.
Stat pack: Iginla is on pace for his 10th consecutive season of 30-plus goals, with 22 over the Flames' first 51 games. ... Weber also put up an impressive plus-6 rating for Team Lidstrom in its 11-10 victory Sunday in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover in Raleigh, N.C.
Puck drop: Sadly, it appears the NHL career of Craig Conroy may have come to an end after Calgary placed him off waivers and none of the other 29 teams put in a claim. Conroy's choices now are to report to the AHL or announce his retirement, and the 39-year-old veteran of 1,090 combined regular-season and playoff games seems to be leaning toward the latter.
"It was easy to come (to the rink) every day," he told the Calgary Herald in regards to being a healthy scratch in 27 of the last 28 games prior to being waived. "Maybe some days I'd leave disappointed because I wasn't in. Especially when you're losing. But you're playing hockey, you're with the guys. That's going to be the hard part. I've talked to most of them the last few days, and you're not going to be in that locker room anymore.
"That's a little difficult."