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At the Rink: Flames at Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- The Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche have gotten off to similar disappointing starts heading into their game Tuesday at Pepsi Center (9 p.m. ET; SNF, ALT).

The Flames (3-8-1) are in sixth place in the Pacific Division and snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday with a 5-4 win against the Edmonton Oilers. They've gone 2-7-1 in their past 10 games and have a better road record (2-3-1) than they have at home (1-5-0).

The Avalanche (3-7-1) are in last place in the Central Division, have gone 1-5-1 in their past seven games, and also are better on the road (2-3-0) than at home (1-4-1).

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he hasn't commiserated with Flames coach and friend Bob Hartley about their respective teams' struggles. Roy was the goalie and Hartley the Colorado coach when they won the Stanley Cup together in 2001.

"No, I don't want to hear his problems and he doesn't want to hear my problems," Roy said. "I think he's having enough and I have enough. Let's worry about our teams right now."

The Avalanche's biggest problem: They've been outscored 14-8 in the third period or overtime; six of their eight losses have been by one goal.

"We want to continue to generate some offense, bring more pucks to the net," Roy said. "It seems like we're never at the right place for the rebounds. I always feel that eventually it will bounce our way. I understand we don't have the results to show and people could be sarcastic with us for saying that we're close to winning some games, but I feel that we're doing a lot of good things defensively.

"When you don't score that many goals, the breakdowns hurt you more, and you need to be perfect. That's the reason we're struggling in those close games. We don't score the big goal and we're making breakdowns at the wrong time of the game. That's what's been hurting us. We feel that we're on the right track. We don't have the numbers to prove it, but I feel that we're getting closer."

The Flames, who have been outscored 40-15 in the second and third periods, needed a hat trick from Michael Frolik for their win against the Edmonton Oilers. His third goal came off a shot from behind the goal line and broke a 4-4 tie with 8.7 seconds left in regulation. Frolik didn't have a goal in the first 11 games.

Hartley is hopeful Frolik and his linemates, Matt Stajan and Josh Jooris, can contribute some more against the Avalanche and start to build some confidence and momentum.

"You can't always put all of your eggs in the same basket and expect them to always contribute," Hartley said of forwards like Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, who are off to a slow start with a combined seven goals. "They're getting special attention from other teams, using their top defensive pair, playing against their shutdown line or (going) toe-to-toe against their best offensive line. You're going to get waves where you don't always get a contribution from your top guys. That's where you need everyone to step in."

The Flames also could use better special teams play. They've gone 2-for-20 on power plays in the past seven games and allowed four goals in 14 shorthanded situations in the past four games.

Here are the projected lineups:


Joe Colborne - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Johnny Gaudreau - Sam Bennett - David Jones

Michael Frolik - Matt Stajan - Josh Jooris

Brandon Bollig - Mikael Backlund - Mason Raymond

Mark Giordano - Dennis Wideman

Kris Russell - TJ Brodie

Deryk Engelland - Dougie Hamilton

Karri Ramo

Joni Ortio

Injured: Lance Bouma (broken leg), Michael Ferland (lower body), Jonas Hiller (lower body)

Scratched: Derek Grant, Ladislav Smid


Alex Tanguay - Nathan MacKinnon - Jarome Iginla

Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - Carl Soderberg

Cody McLeod - Mikhail Grigorenko - Blake Comeau

Dennis Everberg - Ben Street - Jack Skille

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Brandon Gormley - Brad Stuart

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Injured: John Mitchell (oblique), Jesse Winchester (head)

Scratched: Nate Guenin, Nikita Zadorov

Status report: Street was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League because of Mitchell's injury. He has been reunited with Rampage linemate Everberg.

Who's hot: Bennett has one goal and three assists in a three-game scoring streak. … Frolik has three goals and one assist in the past three games. … Soderberg has a goal and an assist in a two-game streak.

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