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Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Calgary Flames @NHL
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GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (20-41-8-4) at Calgary Flames (37-26-7-3).

TIME: Thursday, 9 p.m. EST.

The Calgary Flames are making a habit of beating the NHL's top teams - and now they get to face one of the worst clubs in the league.

Calgary, pursuing its first playoff berth since the 1995-96 season, tries to record its longest unbeaten streak in more than two years as it faces the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 25 saves to lead Calgary to a 4-1 win Tuesday night over the NHL-leading Detroit Red Wings, who have won the Stanley Cup three times since the Flames last played a postseason game.

Stephane Yelle, Steve Montador, Matthew Lombardi and Craig Conroy scored for the Flames, who are sixth in the Western Conference with 84 points after completing a 2-0-1 road trip.

"I thought having as a good finish to the road trip, we could come in here and play well," Montador said. "The way that we know that we can and play defensively, it would be a good win. A nice thrust for us to get in the playoffs."

Calgary has also beaten two of the NHL's other top teams, the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche, during its 4-0-2 stretch. The Flames haven't gone unbeaten in seven straight games since a 6-0-4 run from Oct. 27-Nov. 22, 2001.

"Any team right now will do," Yelle said. "We're approaching it game by game."

The next team that Calgary will face is Columbus, which lost 3-2 on the road to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday for its season high-tying seventh straight defeat.

"It's the same old story - another one-goal loss," Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant said. "We played pretty well. It's disappointing, but it's the same old story."

The Blue Jackets, who lost a franchise-record eight in a row from Nov. 17-Dec. 3, 2000, own the worst record in the West.

STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 52 points, 5th place, 44 PB, Central Division. Flames - 84 points, 3rd place, 9 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Rick Nash, 37 goals and 51 points; David Vyborny, 30 assists; Jody Shelley, 191 PIM. Flames - Jarome Iginla, 36 goals and 64 points; Conroy, 35 assists; Chris Simon, 227 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 16): Blue Jackets - Power play: 15.0 percent (54 for 361), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (247 for 295), 17th. Flames - Power play: 15.0 percent (48 for 319), 21st. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (262 for 313), 18th.

GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (17-33-7, 4 SO, 2.63 GAA); Fred Brathwaite (3-10-1, 3.35). Flames - Kiprusoff (20-7-4, 2, 1.69); Roman Turek (5-10-0, 2, 2.50).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 19; Flames, 2-1. At Columbus, Ohio, Lombardi scored a short-handed goal and Kiprusoff stopped 34 shots to lead the Flames. Columbus set a franchise record with 13 power-play chances, but failed to score on any of them.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 5-25-4-2 on the road; Flames - 18-12-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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