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Preview: Flames vs. Avalanche

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

After putting together their first winning streak in two months, the Colorado Avalanche took a step back in their last game. Bouncing back from their most lopsided defeat of the season doesn't look like it will be easy.

At the Saddledome on Thursday night, the Avalanche try to avoid a losing a ninth straight game to a Calgary Flames team coming off its highest-scoring effort of the season.

After concluding a franchise-long eight-game homestand with three consecutive victories, Colorado (13-14-1) opened a three-game trip with Tuesday's 6-0 loss to Vancouver. The Avs outshot the Canucks 33-23 and had five power-play opportunities - their most in eight games - but couldn't capitalize.

"They did a great job taking our shots away (on the 5-on-3 power play)," Colorado defenseman Kyle Quincey said. "You've got to tip your hat to them."

The Avalanche suffered their seventh loss in eight games to Vancouver since the start of last season, and have endured similar problems against Calgary.

The Flames (12-13-2) have outscored the Avs 33-14 in winning the last eight meetings since a 6-5 loss on Oct. 28, 2010. This is Colorado's longest current losing streak against a team, and Calgary's longest current winning streak over an opponent.

In the first three meetings this season, Calgary's Rene Bourque, Curtis Glencross and Lee Stempniak have each accounted for two goals.

Glencross has six goals during the winning streak, while Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who has a goal and two assists against the Avs this season, has six goals and three assists in his last seven games in the series.

Iginla, tied with Bourque for the team lead with nine goals, had two goals and an assist in Tuesday's 7-6 victory over Carolina.

"We played a real solid game, not perfect by any means, but a good game," Iginla said. "It got a little closer, but it still feels good and it's important. It's the first one of these three that we want to get on the homestand."

Brendan Morrison, a healthy scratch for Calgary's previous five games, had an encouraging performance Tuesday with two goals and two assists. Morrison, who was inserted into the lineup when Glencross was scratched with the flu, had offseason knee surgery and has been hampered by the injury at times this season. He entered with one goal and no assists in 10 games.

"It's nice to come in and contribute, I'm not going to hide that," Morrison said. "But the main thing is we won the game."

The Flames improved to 4-1-1 in their last six games, scoring at least five goals three times during that span after reaching that total once in their first 21 contests.

This offensive outburst has made things a bit easier for Miikka Kiprusoff, who is 4-0-1 in his last five starts with a 2.76 goals-against average.

Kiprusoff has fared much better against the Avs, recording a 1.69 GAA in winning his last nine games.

Semyon Varlamov, who was making his seventh consecutive start for the Avalanche on Tuesday, was pulled in the third period after surrendering six goals on 21 shots. He has started Colorado's last two games against Calgary, stopping 37 of 43 shots.

Colorado's Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk, tied for the team lead with nine goals, each have a goal and an assist against the Flames this season.

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