The Calgary Flames’ early season troubles are a distant memory.
The Flames look to keep their momentum going as they seek their sixth straight win in a home matchup with the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.
The Flames (22-14-7) struggled through the first two months of 2007-08, but have gone 12-1-4 since the start of December. Their latest victory, 6-4 at Los Angeles on Saturday, gave them a one-point advantage over Vancouver for the Northwest Division lead.
“It’s pretty big,” said right wing Jarome Iginla, who contributed a goal and two assists. “I mean, we were quite a ways out at the beginning of December, and at that point we were just trying to crawl back into the hunt and into a playoff spot.”
Iginla has helped power the winning streak, recording eight goals and three assists in his last six games. He’s among the NHL leaders with 32 goals and 60 points.
On Saturday, Kristian Huselius scored two third-period goals and added an assist to lift the Flames. Huselius, second on the team with 47 points, has six goals and six assists during a five-game point streak.
Daymond Langkow also had two goals and an assist for Calgary, which won a season-high six in a row from Dec. 9-18.
“This is the most talented group that I’ve played with in Calgary, with Huselius, (Alex) Tanguay, (Craig) Conroy and Langkow,” Iginla said. “We’re all helping each other and feeding each other, and I’ve been the recipient of some pretty good passes.”
Iginla hopes his teammates can continue that cohesive play against resurgent Phoenix (21-18-1), winner of four straight. The Flames, though, have won five of the last six meetings with the Coyotes to improve to 11-2-1 in the series since Feb. 23, 2003.
Last season, Calgary went 3-0-1 against Phoenix, winning the most recent matchup 5-2 at home on Feb. 26.
Miikka Kiprusoff was not in net for that victory, but he’ll likely make the start Tuesday. He’s started all but one of Calgary’s games this season, and is 11-1-2 with a 2.73 goals-against average in his last 14 games. Kiprusoff is 6-2-1 with a 1.97 GAA in nine career appearances versus Phoenix.
The Coyotes are coming off a 3-2 shootout win at home over Anaheim on Saturday. Rookie Peter Mueller scored the lone goal in the shootout to give Phoenix its third four-game winning streak this season.
It’s the club’s longest run since taking seven straight from Dec. 28, 2006-Jan. 9, 2007.
“It was a playoff atmosphere in the building,” Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. “The intensity of the game was really solid and you need guys to step forward. I thought that was the best game our team played all season.”
Phoenix won’t have its home crowd behind it as it begins a four-game road swing, but the Coyotes have won five straight away from Jobing.com Arena, matching a stretch from Oct. 11-Nov. 7.
The Coyotes, though, haven’t had much success in Calgary, losing three straight and six of their last seven there.
Kiprusoff, who led the league with 28 home wins last season, has won his last three games at Pengrowth Saddledome. He’s seeking his first four-game home winning streak since he won seven straight from Jan. 6-Feb. 3, 2007.
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