As they try to gain ground in the Northwest Division, the Calgary Flames have only needed to focus on one struggling rival over the last five days.
The Flames look to move back atop the division when they wrap up a stretch of three straight games against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday at the Pepsi Center.
Three teams are separated by only three points in the Northwest with Calgary (31-20-8) trailing first-place Vancouver by two points. Minnesota is one point behind the Flames, but in eighth place in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche are last in the division and 10th in the West, nine points behind the Wild for the final playoff spot. Still, they split last week’s two games against Calgary at Pengrowth Saddledome.Colorado won 7-5 on Thursday before the Flames posted a 5-2 win on Saturday.
“We took a couple steps backward the other night,” said Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who scored the game-winning goal on Saturday. “Tonight, we came out, everyone as a whole played a great game defensively for a full 60 minutes and that’s what won us the hockey game.”
While its defense responded with a solid game, Calgary’s offense once again frustrated the Avalanche. The Flames have won three of four games from Colorado this season, outscoring them 22-14.
Kristian Huselius scored twice on Saturday, and has four goals and four assists against the Avalanche this season. Jarome Iginla had a goal and an assist in their latest win, and has three goals in his last two games against Colorado giving Calgary’s captain six goals and four assists in his last six games against them.
Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Miikka Kiprusoff made 24 saves Saturday, but has struggled away from home recently. He has lost three straight, and is 2-4-4 on the road since Dec. 18. One of those road wins, though, came when he made 27 saves in Calgary’s 7-3 win on Jan. 11 in Denver.
Kiprusoff is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals-against average against the Avalanche this season, and has won six of his last seven games against them.
After facing Calgary, Colorado lost valuable ground in the playoff race after falling 5-4 to Vancouver on Sunday.
“We had our chances to win the last couple games, but haven’t found a way,” said longtime Colorado captain Joe Sakic, who had an assist to extend his point streak to a season-high eight games. “It’s not that we’re playing that bad but we have to learn how to win these games, especially at this time of year. We have to put teams away and get some points.”
Sakic has five goals and 10 assists during his run, including a season-high five points in Thursday’s win against the Flames. He has two goals and seven assists against Calgary this season.
Andrew Brunette scored twice against the Canucks to give him four goals and five assists in his last six games. Brunette, who is one goal shy of matching his career high of 24 set last season, has scored in each of his last three games against the Flames.
Budaj is 0-2-0 with a 6.16 GAA in three starts against them, while Theodore is 1-1-0 with a 4.26 GAA in one start.
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