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Preview: Flames vs. Red Wings

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

Though they're still struggling on the road, the Calgary Flames have had no such problems lately at Scotiabank Saddledome.

They'll have plenty of chances to correct their road woes in the very near future, but first will try to make it five consecutive home wins Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

After going winless on a four-game trip (0-2-2), the Flames returned home Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Northwest Division-leading Minnesota. Jarome Iginla scored the go-ahead goal and added an assist to help Calgary (15-15-4) improve to 6-0-1 in its last seven at home.

"We've been in a lot of close games. It's nice to have one go our way," Iginla said. "We haven't actually played that bad, even on the road. You get to overtime, you get to shootouts, but unfortunately the results didn't go our way, so it feels really good to win a close game."

This will be Calgary's last home game before heading back onto the road for a season-long seven-game trip while the World Junior championship is in town.

Iginla has been the key figure behind Calgary's strong play at home, collecting five goals with three assists in the team's four-game run there. He has six goals and four assists during a five-game point streak against Detroit.

"Three or four times tonight you saw him in front of the net battling. That's when Iggy is at his best, when he's a power forward like that," teammate Curtis Glencross said. "He's a tough guy to move in front of the net, and he was rewarded for his hard work on the goal."

The Flames will likely need continued production from their captain as they look to win five straight at home for the first time since a six-game run Dec. 23, 2008-Jan. 13, 2009.

Also productive lately is Olli Jokinen, who has four goals and eight assists in his last eight games.

Miikka Kiprusoff rebounded with 29 saves against the Wild after allowing nine goals in his previous two starts. He has been in net for each game during Calgary's 6-0-1 home run, posting a 1.98 goals-against average.

The Flames will again be without left wing Rene Bourque, who will serve the last of a two-game suspension for a hit on Chicago's Brent Seabrook.

Detroit (21-11-1) has split the first two games of its four-game trip after a 4-2 loss to Vancouver on Wednesday. Todd Bertuzzi and Drew Miller scored for the Red Wings, who had won five of six.

Tied for the league lead with 13 home victories, Detroit's road play hasn't been nearly as strong. Wednesday's loss was the Red Wings' fourth in six games away from Joe Louis Arena, and they're averaging a mere 2.44 goals in 17 road contests, compared to an NHL-best 4.19 at home.

Pavel Datsyuk assisted on Bertuzzi's score, giving him eight goals and 16 assists in his last 17 games. Henrik Zetterberg, however, had his season-high six-game point streak snapped.

With games on back-to-back nights, Detroit coach Mike Babcock could give starting goaltender Jimmy Howard a rest, but backup Ty Conklin is 0-3-0 with a 4.40 GAA in his only three starts since a shutout in his season debut.

These teams have split two meetings this season - both in Detroit. The Red Wings have won six of the last seven matchups overall, including four in a row at Calgary.

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