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Blues seek fourth straight win in Calgary

by Tal Pinchevsky

BLUES (5-4-0) at FLAMES (3-4-1)


Season Series:
This is the second of four meetings this season between these teams. They met on Oct. 10, the second game of the season for both teams, when five different Blues players scored in a 5-2 win that saw the home team outshoot Calgary 35-17.

Big Story:
After a stretch in which they lost three of four games, a slump punctuated by a humbling 5-0 loss in Los Angeles, the Blues have gotten hot, winning their last three games. The Flames are also coming into this one off a victory -- they beat Colorado 4-2 on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Blues: Perhaps most impressive about the winning streak is that it has come in the midst of a four-game road trip. The Blues have two more games on the current swing before playing six of their next seven games at home.

Wednesday night in Vancouver, Brian Elliott improved his record this season to 4-0-0 with a 32-save shutout performance against the Canucks. Alexander Steen scored twice in a 3-0 win that saw the Blues get outshot 17-6 in the third period. Kevin Shattenkirk contributed two assists in an impressive performance against the defending Western Conference champions.

Elliott, signed to a two-way contract during the summer, has usurped starter Jaroslav Halak -- at least for now.

"He's played great for us," Steen said of Elliott, who has started each of St. Louis' last three games. "We are winning hockey games. I thought there was a couple of times when Vancouver pushed us down in our own end. He just kind of calmed things down."

Flames: After stumbling out of the gate with three losses in their first four games, the Flames proceeded to lose two of the first three games in a season-long six-game homestand. They got back on the right foot on Wednesday by beating Colorado in a game that saw the teams combine for 71 shots.

After allowing the opening goal, Calgary scored three unanswered markers, a swing that started with Roman Horak's first NHL goal. Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff led the way with 34 stops, including 19 in the third period, on his 35th birthday. Rene Bourque scored his second goal of the night into an empty net to close the game out.

"We still could play better," Bourque said. "We kind of let them back in the game there in the third, but Kipper played well and made some big saves. Credit to him for keeping us in there at the end."

Who's Hot: Steen has helped to pace the Blues offensive charge of late. He has three points and is plus-5 in his last two games. Veteran forward Jason Arnott has also been an unexpected offensive spark for the Blues, leading the team -- along with Steen -- with eight points after registering three points in his last three games. … As per usual, the Flames offense has been paced by team captain Jarome Iginla, who has three points in his last three games.

Injury Report: Blues forwards David Perron (post-concussion syndrome), B.J. Crombeen (broken left scapula), and Andy McDonald (concussion) are on IR. … Calgary's forward units are also dealing with injuries. Mikael Backlund (broken finger) is on IR while Curtis Glencross is questionable with a lower-body injury.

Stat Pack: Elliott's stellar play has only intensified the focus on Halak's slow start. The Blues' franchise goalie hasn't started in more than a week and has a 1-4-0 record. It's still early, but his .835 save percentage and 3.47 goals against average are the worst of his career. Halak has never posted a losing record in any NHL season.

Puck Drop: The Blues should have a keen eye on Iginla throughout the game. The Flames' captain has feasted on the Blues throughout his career. Since the 1997-98 season, Iginla has recorded 66 points in the 53 games he has played against the Blues.

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