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Preview: Flames vs. Avalanche

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames have been inconsistent on the road but far from it when visiting Colorado of late.

The Flames conclude a three-game road trip seeking a seventh consecutive victory over the stumbling Avalanche on Sunday night.

After opening its trek with a 4-1 victory over Detroit on Thursday, Calgary (5-6-1) surrendered a season-high 44 shots during Friday's 2-1 loss to Buffalo.

The Flames have alternated wins and losses away from home this season, going 2-3-0, but they've won five straight road games over Colorado by a 20-7 score. Before this run, Calgary had never won more than two straight in Denver.

Another factor in the Flames' favor is that the Avalanche (7-5-1) own the league's worst home record at 1-4-0, getting held to six goals.

Calgary has allowed only one goal in its opponents' 17 power-play opportunities through five road games but has been outshot by 47.

Backup Henrik Karlsson made a career-high 42 saves Friday, but Calgary went 0 for 3 on the power play and couldn't overcome some careless play.

"The mistakes we made, like the turnovers in our zone when we have pucks on our stick - we're sloppy in that area. (Thursday night) we weren't but 24 hours later, we are," coach Brent Sutter said. "That's the part that obviously we need to continue to work on and continue to improve and continue to get these guys in sync.

"Whenever we do it right, we have success - and I know I say it all the time but it's facts. There's something mentally that we gotta get through as a group that they gotta push through and we gotta continue to work with them on it."

The Flames have certainly been doing something right against Colorado (7-5-1) recently. Calgary has outscored the Avalanche 27-10 during its six-game win streak in the series.

The only meeting this season saw Miikka Kiprusoff make 34 saves in a 4-2 home victory Oct. 26. He's won his last seven starts against the Avalanche, including four in Colorado with a 1.29 goals-against average.

The Avs won six of their first eight games but have since gone 1-3-1 following a frustrating 7-6 overtime defeat at Dallas on Friday. They took a 2-0 lead into the second period and blew two one-goal leads in the third before a deflected pass off defenseman Erik Johnson slipped past goaltender Semyon Varlamov in overtime.

"It's disappointing to give that game up," said center Matt Duchene, who recorded his first NHL hat trick and had a career-high four points.

"Offensively, there's a lot of good things to take away from that game. Even when we got down we stayed with it. It's a weird game to comment on, its very unorthodox for an Avalanche team to be in a game like that."

Duchene and center Ryan O'Reilly are tied for the team lead with 10 points, but neither has scored a goal in 13 career games versus Calgary.

Varlamov, whose seven goals allowed Friday matched a career worst, has started all five of Colorado's home games, posting a 2.43 GAA. While Varlamov has never started against the Flames, Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 0-2-1 with a 2.95 GAA in his last three matchups with them after making 34 saves in the Oct. 26 loss.

The Avalanche will look to slow down Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who has five goals and two assists over a five-game point streak in the series. Iginla's 33 goals versus Colorado are his most against any team.

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