The Calgary Flames have proven they can dominate the Colorado Avalanche when the teams face each other north of the border. The Avalanche hope to produce a different result Thursday on their home ice.
Calgary looks to hang on to its tenuous Northwest Division lead as its longest road trip of the season continues against Colorado at the Pepsi Center.
All five Northwest Division teams are separated by only two points, with Calgary’s (17-12-3) 37 good for first place. Colorado (17-15-2), Minnesota and Edmonton are all tied with 36, just one better than last-place Vancouver.
The Flames have won four straight meetings with the Avalanche, including a 5-2 victory Nov. 28, but all four of those matchups have taken place in Calgary. Colorado took three of four meetings at the Pepsi Center last season, with the lone Flames win coming via shootout. The Avalanche scored 19 goals in the four contests in Denver.
This season, Calgary is 12-3-0 at home—including wins in its last 10 games there—but is just 5-9-3 away from Pengrowth Saddledome. The Flames have alternated losses and wins in the first four games of their season-high six-game road trip, including a 5-3 victory Tuesday at Los Angeles.
“We got a lot of juice out of our young players,” Flames coach Jim Playfair said. “There’s always some apprehension when you get that many young players out there all at the same time, but I think it really worked to our advantage.”
Meanwhile, 16-year veteran forward Tony Amonte is showing he still has some juice left. Amonte scored his seventh goal of the season and second in three games in the first period, and later assisted on a goal by Daymond Langkow. Left wing Alex Tanguay was sidelined due to a charley horse, moving Amonte on to Calgary’s top line beside Langkow and captain Jarome Iginla.
“I’ve played with those guys before, so this is a good opportunity for me— playing on an offensive line, creating some offense and trying to get some points,” Amonte said. “It’s a little bit different role than the one I’ve played for this club most of this season.”
The Avalanche have won four of their last five games after a wild 7-6 victory Tuesday night at Edmonton. Andrew Brunette scored three power-play goals for his first career hat trick, but Colorado got outshot 37-30 and needed a goal by Brett McLean at 11:27 of the final period to gain the lead for good.
“We were lucky to get a win and I’m sure they are pretty frustrated right now,” said Brunette, who has just four goals in 32 career games versus the Flames. “It was just one of those nights when things found a way to bounce themselves into the net. Us blowing two-goal leads twice is frustrating, but we got the win.”
This contest opens a four-game homestand for the Avalanche, who have won five of their last six at the Pepsi Center.