The Flames look to remain perfect on their six-game road trip Friday night when they visit the slumping Hurricanes for the first time in nearly six years.
Faced with the daunting task of six straight road games, Calgary (14-13-5) has proven to be equal to the challenge with wins on the first three stops. After posting a 3-2 win Sunday at Chicago and a 2-1 shootout victory Tuesday against Florida, Calgary turned up the offense Thursday in a wild 9-6 win at Tampa Bay.
Captain Jarome Iginla had a hat trick in the third period, and Kristian Huselius added three goals and two assists as the Flames scored nine goals in a game for the first time since a 10-0 win over Tampa Bay on Jan. 2, 1996.
“In those games, nobody’s thrilled with the way it’s going,” Iginla said. “To be able to corral it and find a way, especially here in Tampa, it feels real good.”
Calgary improved to 4-0-2 in its last six games by scoring more than three goals for the first time since a 5-2 win at Colorado on Nov. 24. The nine goals were one fewer than it had in the previous four game combined.
In net, Miikka Kiprusoff had allowed two goals or fewer in four straight starts before Thursday.
“It’s not a goalie’s dream game, but you still have to be able to win these crazy games,” he said. “You just have to keep working. At the end of the night, you look, it’s two points, and you have to be happy with that.”
Kiprusoff, who figures to start for the second consecutive night, has made 23 saves while shutting out the Hurricanes in each of his last two starts against them. The first of those, however, came more than four years ago.
Carolina (16-13-3) looked like one of the league’s elite teams earlier this season, but it has struggled to a 5-9-0 mark in the last 14 games, including a 3-5-0 record at home.
Hoping to rebound from a 5-2 loss at Detroit, the Hurricanes instead put forth their worst game of the season Wednesday in a 6-0 loss to Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa.
“Any loss is frustrating, but when you’re embarrassed at home it becomes more frustrating,” said coach Peter Laviolette, whose club will now try to avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season.
Carolina has allowed five or more goals in three of its last six games. While those defensive woes are far from his fault alone, goaltender Cam Ward hasn’t been sharp lately, giving up 11 goals in his last two starts.
Laviolette could start backup John Grahame on Friday, but his recent play hasn’t been any better. Grahame is 0-3-0 with a 6.04 goals-against average in his last three appearances.
This will be Calgary’s first visit to Carolina since the teams played to a 3-3 tie on March 11, 2002. The Flames are 3-1-0 with one tie in their last five overall meetings with the Hurricanes.