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Calgary Flames vs. Montr?al Canadiens

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GAME: Calgary Flames (30-20-5-3) at Montreal Canadiens (28-24-6-2).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Calgary Flames look to win five straight for the first time in seven years, while the Montreal Canadiens try to snap their longest losing streak of the season at four when the teams meet at the Bell Centre.

The Flames extended their winning streak to a season high-tying four games with a 2-1 road victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Calgary, which hasn't won five in a row since February 1997, is 5-1-1 in its last seven contests.

Calgary hasn't made the playoffs since 1995-96, but its recent run of success has moved the team into fifth place in the Western Conference standings.

"This is a position we haven't been in in a long time," said Flames forward Jarome Iginla, who has five goals and two assists during the winning streak. "We remember what it was like when you're trying to catch the other teams."

The Flames have already reached 30 wins, one more than last season.

"That was good to see," Iginla said. "Our first goal is just to make the playoffs. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves."

Montreal had a lot of confidence in itself heading into the All-Star break, but the Canadiens have since struggled.

Montreal went into the break with a three-game winning streak, but lost its season-high fourth straight Tuesday night, 4-1 to Atlanta.

"When you lose three in a row, you should get a better performance than this, especially at home," Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said.

Montreal was seventh overall in the Eastern Conference at the break with 64 points, and had a 12-point lead over ninth-place Buffalo. The Sabres, however, are now closing in on the Canadiens.

"We have to realize the importance of these games and these points right now," Koivu said. "Buffalo is playing well, they are catching up on us, so we can't keep playing like this much longer."

STANDINGS (through Feb. 17): Flames - 68 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Northwest Division. Canadiens - 64 points, 4th place, 12 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 29 goals and 53 points; Iginla and Craig Conroy, 24 assists; Krzysztof Oliwa, 178 PIM. Canadiens - Richard Zednik, 19 goals; Mike Ribeiro, 32 assists and 47 points; Darren Langdon, 110 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 17): Flames - Power play: 16.2 percent (42 for 260), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (205 for 243), 17th. Canadiens - Power play: 17.9 percent (42 for 234), 8th. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (185 for 226), 23rd.

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Miikka Kiprusoff (14-3-2, 1 SO, 1.46 GAA); Roman Turek (4-8-0, 1, 2.78). Canadiens - Jose Theodore (22-22-5, 5, 2.20); Mathieu Garon (6-4-1, 2.36).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 20; Flames, 2-1. At Calgary, Alberta, Kiprusoff finished with 22 saves for his first win of the season, and Martin Gelinas scored with 1:14 left to lead the Flames to the victory.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 14-9-1-2 on the road; Canadiens - 15-11-4-0 at home.


Associated Press
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