The Flames open a three-game homestand Thursday night, looking to prevent the Blackhawks from their fifth consecutive victory at Pengrowth Saddledome.
Calgary (30-16-4) hasn’t finished first in the Northwest Division since 2005-06, but currently finds itself in that position. A strong home record has contributed to that success, as the Flames have won 10 of their last 11 games there and are 19-5-3 overall at Pengrowth Saddledome.
On the road, however, they are just 11-11-1 and have lost four of their last five. Calgary has dropped two straight - both away from home - and Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat to Dallas prompted a visit from general manager Darryl Sutter.
“(Sutter) tells it like it is,” center Craig Conroy said. “Enough with the excuses. We have to play better on the road. There are a lot of opportunities to do that. We’re giving away points right now.”
Calgary has let points slip away against Chicago, which has won seven of the last 10 meetings (7-3-0) and all three this season.
The Blackhawks (28-13-8) have outscored the Flames 14-5 in 2008-09, winning 5-2 in Chicago on Jan. 4 in the most recent matchup. They’ve also taken four in a row in Calgary - all one-goal decisions.
Chicago seeks to sweep the four-game season series for the first time since 1993-94, while handing Calgary its first three-game losing streak since Dec. 9-12.
The biggest reason for the Flames’ home success has been an offense that has 99 goals there compared to only 58 on the road. Michael Cammalleri, who has 10 goals with two assists during a six-game home point streak, has scored 17 of his team-leading 26 goals in Calgary.
Cammalleri has 12 goals and three assists in his last 10 games overall. He has five goals and seven assists in 16 career matchups with Chicago, but has been kept off the scoresheet this season.
Martin Havlat - second on the Blackhawks with 40 points - has three goals and an assist in his last four visits to Calgary, and has two goals and three assists overall versus the Flames this season.
Havlat and Dave Bolland each had a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Edmonton.
Chicago, which was coming off of a 4-2 victory at West-leading San Jose on Saturday, improved to 3-1 on its season-high eight-game road trip - the second-longest in team history.
“We just didn’t feel satisfied coming in here after a good game in San Jose. I thought we had a real good response,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Quenneville’s club looks to win three in a row overall for the first time since their franchise-record nine-game winning streak from Dec. 7-28.
If Chicago continues its goaltending rotation, Nikolai Khabibulin will be in net Thursday. He is 4-2-1 with a 2.16 goals-against average in his last seven games, and is 3-0-0 with a 1.52 GAA in his last four versus the Flames.
Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff has started all three games this season against the Blackhawks, going 0-2-1 with a 4.87 GAA. He has started all but three of the Flames’ 50 games thus far.