The Calgary Flames established themselves as a title contender with their play in January, but this month has been another story.
The Northwest Division-leading Flames, who are in the midst of a season-high four-game losing streak, again seek their first win of February on Monday when they host the Montreal Canadiens, who open a six-game road trip.
Calgary (30-18-4) built a comfortable lead atop the Northwest last month when it tied San Jose for the league’s second-best January record at 8-3-0, but it has since joined Phoenix as the only two teams without a point this month.
The Flames lost to Anaheim 2-1 on Saturday and have dropped four straight games - all in February. Calgary is also suddenly vulnerable at home, as it has lost back-to-back games at the Saddledome after winning 10 of its previous 11 there.
Offensive woes have been the biggest reason for the Flames’ skid. They’ve scored just four goals in their last three games after tallying 16 in their previous four.
“We’re definitely feeling it,” Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. “We want to get back winning. There were a couple of mistakes and, yeah, they ended up in (the net). But at the same time, we got one goal and you’re not going to win many games like that.”
The Flames hope Michael Cammalleri’s team-leading 27th goal on Saturday can help launch another scoring barrage. Cammalleri has two goals in his last five games after scoring eight goals in his previous four.
The Canadiens (29-18-6), who used two goals by Robert Lang to beat the Flames 4-1 on Dec. 9, are also in a bit of a funk.
Montreal lost to Toronto 5-2 on Saturday, and has dropped seven of its last nine games. Despite their little slide, the Canadiens are still in the mix to host a first-round series in the playoffs.
Montreal captain Saku Koivu believes the team’s upcoming 11-day road trip will provide an opportunity to get back on track.
“It’s time to get some bonding time and spend some time together,” Koivu said. “Sometimes it’s easier to really be simple and do your things and get that focus back when you’re on the road and away from all the distractions.”
The only problem is that the Canadiens haven’t had much luck away from the Bell Centre lately.
Montreal has been outscored 22-10 in losing a season-high five straight road games since a 5-4 shootout win in Ottawa on Jan. 17.
Price dropped to 2-6-0 with a 3.50 goals-against average in his last nine games after missing Montreal’s previous eight contests with a lower-body injury. Price, who was 7-0-2 with a 2.09 GAA in his nine starts before his injury, has never faced the Flames in his career.
Calgary starting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was given the night off on Saturday after allowing 11 goals in the first three games of the losing streak.
Kiprusoff, who was 12-2-0 with a 2.55 GAA in his previous 14 starts, made 27 saves in the loss to Montreal in December. He has yielded nine goals in losing his last two starts against the Canadiens.
This will be the Canadiens’ first visit to Calgary since a 3-2 loss on Jan. 19, 2006. Montreal has two losses and a tie in three games at the Saddledome since its last win there, a 4-2 decision on Jan. 5, 2002.