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Blackhawks-Flames Preview

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Blackhawks-Flames Preview

GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (7-11-0) at Calgary Flames (12-7-2).

TIME: Friday, 9 p.m. EST.

Tony Amonte helped Darren McCarty score against his former club as the Calgary Flames extended their winning streak to eight games.

Now, Amonte gets the chance to beat his former team as the Flames look to move closer to the franchise record for consecutive wins when they face the Chicago Blackhawks.

Amonte scored in the first period and set up McCarty's goal in the third as the Flames posted a 3-1 victory over the Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Calgary's winning streak is its longest since it had eight straight victories from Dec. 14, 1992-Jan. 2, 1993, and two shy of the franchise record, set in 1978-79 when the team was based in Atlanta.

"It's nice to see Mac get a goal," Amonte said. "He wanted it really bad. He was talking about it all night and talking about it between the second and the third. To go out and pot one early that was sweet for him and everybody was happy for him."

The 35-year-old Amonte, who spent parts of nine seasons with Chicago, signed a two-year deal with Calgary in August. He has five goals and seven assists in 11 career games against the Blackhawks.

Amonte and McCarty aren't the only veterans contributing in their first season with Calgary. Defenseman Roman Hamrlik is tied with Jarome Iginla for the team lead with 11 assists.

Iginla, who also leads the club with 11 goals, set up Chuck Kobasew's goal that snapped a second-period tie Wednesday. Calgary improved to 8-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes.

"We've tried to establish ourselves as one of the best third-period teams in the league," McCarty said. "We were able to get one early and really didn't give them any chances. The importance wasn't just scoring but putting us up 3-1 in the third. We're a tough team with a two-goal lead in the third."

Chicago has won three of its last four and is beginning a five-game road trip.

Mark Bell scored a pair goals two minutes apart in the opening period and Nikolai Khabibulin made 26 saves as the Blackhawks defeated Edmonton 3-1 on Sunday.

"I don't think it was my best game, but we got the two points and that's what matters," Khabibulin said. "I think when the guys get to know each other a little more, it will help. I see progress."

Khabibulin was Chicago's big free-agent acquisition this summer, signing a four-year, $27 million deal after helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win their first Stanley Cup in 2004. He got off to a rough start with the Blackhawks, but is 3-2 with a 2.78 goals-against average in his last five games.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 17): Blackhawks - 14 points, 3rd place, 18 PB, Central Division. Flames - 26 points, 1st place (tied), Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Pavel Vorobiev, 6 goals and 15 points; Vorobiev and Tyler Arnason, 9 assists; Matthew Barnaby, 47 PIM. Flames - Iginla, 11 goals and 22 points; Iginla and Hamrlik, 11 assists; McCarty, 47 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 17): Blackhawks - Power play: 13.3 percent (16 for 120), 25th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.4 percent (119 for 148), 24th. Flames - Power play: 15.5 percent (21 for 135), 23rd. Penalty killing: 80.3 percent (106 for 132), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Khabibulin (6-10-0, 3.53 GAA); Craig Anderson (1-1-0, 5.12). Flames - Miikka Kiprusoff (11-6-2, 3 SO, 2.29); Philippe Sauve (1-1-0, 3.02).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: 2-2.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 30, 2004; Blackhawks, 5-3. At Calgary, Alberta, Tuomo Ruutu scored twice as the Blackhawks rallied from a two-goal deficit and halted a franchise-record 19-game road losing streak.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 3-7-0 on the road; Flames - 9-1-1 at home.


Associated Press
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