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Blue Jackets-Flames Preview

GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (20-30-2) at Calgary Flames (30-16-6).

TIME: Wednesday, 9 p.m. EST.

The Columbus Blue Jackets attempt to win four in a row for only the third time in franchise history when they visit the struggling Calgary Flames.

The Blue Jackets have won eight of their past 11 games and went 8-4-1 in January, the winningest month in their five-year history. Columbus previously won four straight from Nov. 9-16, 2000, and from March 21-27, 2004.

The Blue Jackets, last in the NHL in goals scored with 129, have 14 during their current three-game winning streak and have rallied for victories in the last two games.

David Vyborny, who was named the NHL's player of the week on Monday, had two goals in Columbus' 4-3 win over Nashville on Saturday.

"We're playing different from the beginning of the season," said Vyborny, who had two goals and five assists for Columbus last week. "If we would have gotten down a few goals we wouldn't have come back."

All three wins last week, and six of the Blue Jackets' last eight victories, have come by one goal.

"There's immense trust and confidence in our ability to come back in any game," said goalie Marc Denis, who has won eight of his last 10 starts.

Defenseman Bryan Berard, third on the team with 32 points, missed Saturday's game and is listed as day to day with a lower back injury, the same one that caused him to miss seven games in December.

Calgary wrapped up a five-game road trip by losing 3-2 in a shootout to St. Louis on Monday, the Flames' third defeat in the last four games.

Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was beaten twice on the high side in the shootout, which lasted five rounds.

"They beat me a couple of times glove high, so you have to learn from that and be ready for the next shootout that comes for us," said Kiprusoff, who is 0-4 in shootouts. "With two goals you should always win."

The Flames have struggled on the power play in their last three losses, going 2-for-25 with the man advantage.

Defenseman Roman Hamrlik broke his hand in Calgary's 5-3 win over Chicago on Sunday night and coach Darryl Sutter said on Tuesday he hopes to have the 13-year veteran back by the March 9 trade deadline. Hamrlik, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 draft, has five goals and 14 assists in his first season with the Flames.

Calgary has won four straight over Columbus and five of the last six meetings, including both contests this season.

The Flames have won six in a row at home.

STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 42 points, 3rd place, 31 PB, Central Division. Flames - 66 points, 1st place, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Vyborny and Nikolai Zherdev, 15 goals; Vyborny, 23 assists and 38 points; Jody Shelley, 107 PIM. Flames - Jarome Iginla, 23 goals and 40 points; Dion Phaneuf, 21 assists; Darren McCarty, 78 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blue Jackets - Power play: 14.9 percent (44 for 296), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.7 percent (290 for 355), 17th. Flames - Power play: 17.5 percent (55 for 314), 15th. Penalty killing: 82.5 percent (264 for 320), 14th.

GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Denis (12-17-0, 1 SO, 3.36 GAA); Pascal Leclaire (5-10-2, 3.69). Flames - Kiprusoff (27-13-6, 6, 2.25); Philippe Sauve (3-3-0, 3.28).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 3; Flames, 2-1. At Calgary, Alberta, Marcus Nilson assisted on Steve Reinprecht's tying goal at 3:09 of the third period, and scored the game-winner at 10:36.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 6-18-2 on the road; Flames - 18-4-2 at home.

Associated Press
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