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Avalanche host Flames to finish off homestand

by Brian Hunter
FLAMES (6-7-0) at AVALANCHE (7-5-1)


Last 10:
Calgary 5-5-0; Colorado 5-4-1

Season Series: Second of six meetings this season between these Northwest Division rivals. They made the first game a wild one, as Chris Stewart scored his second career hat trick and Daniel Winnik notched the decisive goal with 2:20 remaining to give Colorado a 6-5 victory in Calgary.

Big Story: While the knee injury that sidelined goalie Craig Anderson has gotten much of the attention, Colorado has also seen its defense tested by concussions suffered by captain Adam Foote and Kyle Cumiskey, as well as a leg injury to Ryan Wilson. The Avalanche had a pair of blueliners make their NHL debuts last week in Boston University products Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen. They joined Jonas Holos as first-year players on the Colorado defense.

Team Scope:

Flames: It's been frustrating trying to figure out Calgary this season. The Flames scored just 11 goals in their first six games and were shut out twice. Their offense then caught fire and tallied 20 goals over the next four games. But the Flames have now managed only four goals over the last three games, including consecutive 2-1 losses to the Red Wings and Wild. They've dropped four in a row overall dating back to the Nov. 28 defeat against the Avalanche.

"We need to get out of this," coach Brent Sutter said after last Friday's loss in Minnesota. "We need to find ways to win games, not find ways to lose games. Tonight, when you play as well as we did here tonight, we still found a way to lose it. So, there's a positive knowing that we did things well in a good portion of the game. But the negative is, we found a way to lose it. We've got to get on the other side of that again."

Avalanche: This is the finale of a four-game homestand. Veteran goalie Peter Budaj has started five-straight games with Anderson out and Colorado has won three of them, the only losses coming to division rival Vancouver. But after a 3-1 loss to the Canucks last Thursday, the Avalanche rebounded to blank the Stars 5-0, a game in which Kevin Porter scored twice and another rookie, Philippe Dupuis, netted his first NHL goal. Budaj stopped 31 shots and the young defense in front of him was sound.

"I thought they did a good job," coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "Any time you're able to shut out any team in this League, it says a lot about your team defense, and it says a lot about the group we had back there. We had Shattenkirk and Cohen and Holos, three guys who are first-year players for us back there, and I thought they stepped up and did a fine job. And I thought our other defensemen, too, did a good job. As a group, they should be commended for the way they played."

Who's Hot: Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff responded after getting shelled by the Capitals on Oct. 30 by stopping 52 of 56 shots (.929 save percentage) in his last two starts. … Milan Hejduk has 4 goals and 9 assists in his last eight games for the Avalanche.

Injury Report: Calgary forward Curtis Glencross (undisclosed) is day-to-day, while defenseman Adam Pardy (shoulder) and forwards Daymond Langkow (neck), Ryan Stone (knee), Ales Kotalik (knee) and Raitis Ivanans (concussion) are on injured reserve.

Wilson and forward David Jones (hand) are day-to-day for Colorado. Anderson, Foote and Cumiskey are all on injured reserve, in addition to forwards David Koci (broken jaw) and Peter Mueller (concussion).

Stat Pack: Rene Bourque leads the Flames with 7 goals and 3 game-winning goals. … David Van Der Gulik, who was drafted by Calgary in 2002 and played six games for the team during the 2008-09 season, has points in consecutive games for the Avalanche, including his first NHL goal last Thursday against Vancouver.

Puck Drop:
The previous eight games between these teams have been decided by a single goal, with Colorado's 6-2 win on Jan. 18, 2009, marking the last lopsided affair.

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