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Coyotes, Flames chase back-to-back victories

by Matthew Mankiewich
FLAMES (7-7-0) at COYOTES (5-5-5)

TV -- TSN (HD)

Last 10 --
Calgary 5-5-0; Phoenix 3-3-4

Season series --
First of four meetings this season. All four games last season were tight ones, three ending with 2-1 scores in regulation, one 3-2 in a shootout, and each team winning both games at home. The four this season will take the form of home-and-home matchups five days apart with another game sandwiched in between. They'll be doing this again in Calgary next Wednesday.

Big story --
Both teams are coming off big road wins that ended losing streaks, four for the Flames, three for the Coyotes. The Flames came from behind in the third period to pull out a 4-2 win in Colorado Tuesday night while the 'Yotes scored a pair 35 seconds apart Wednesday to leave Chicago with its fourth-straight home loss, 2-1. Both teams are in similar situations, looking to find a rhythm as the season moves toward the quarter mark.

Team scope:

Flames --
"We needed that game so bad," Rene Bourque told the Calgary Sun after the win in Denver. "Got the monkey off our shoulders a bit and relieved some of the pressure and stress."

A good, solid win on the road will do that, even against an injury-decimated Avs defensive unit, but a back-to-back in Phoenix and San Jose will build it right back up.

And the pressure is building primarily on captain Jarome Iginla, who along with linemates Matt Stajan and Alex Tanguay put only three pucks on net Tuesday night. Three is not a lucky number for Iginla, who has that many goals in his last 30 regular-season games. Flames fans have been waiting for a breakout from a funk that seems to have started as far back as Mar. 11 against the Senators, days after Iginla logged his last hat trick.

An impressive 30 goals in 51 career games against the Coyotes, most of those in Arizona, may provide a glimmer of hope. Otherwise, attention will continue to be paid to Iginla's seven-game drought against the 'Yotes, continued significant ice time and $7 million salary.

Coyotes -- When your top goalie needs a rest, it's nice to have a backup who has your opponent's number. Jason LaBarbera spelled Ilya Bryzgalov Wednesday, improved his record in Chicago to 4-0-0 with the 2-1 win and ended an 0-3-0 start to the season. But the timely goals and disciplined play down the stretch impressed coach Dave Tippett even more.

"We feel like we're coming together," Tippett said. "We've still got a ways to go, but players are starting to find their roles, find their niche on our team. Any time you can have success, it enhances that process. We'll go home for two hard games and hopefully we can build on this."

Stringing a second straight win together for the first time this season would be a big step, a third the following night against the Blues an even bigger one.

Who's hot --
Curtis Glencross has four goals in his last five games including two in Colorado that helped spark the win. … Phoenix's Ed Jovanovski earned third star Wednesday with four hits and three blocked shots.

Injury report --
Coyotes captain Shane Doan (lower body) did not play Wednesday and did not accompany the Coyotes on this current trip. He's considered week-to-week. … Flames forward Raitis Ivanans (head) skated for the first time this week since Oct. 28, but is still listed as day-to-day.

Stat pack --
Calgary scored first in all four of its losses prior to the Colorado game, but the Avs scored first in Tuesday's win. Miikka Kiprusoff and backup Henrik Karlsson had allowed 17 goals over the stretch. … Wednesday's win for the Coyotes was their first this season after allowing the first goal. They're undefeated in regulation (4-0-3) when they score first. They've yet to get an extra point in five overtime/shootout contests this season. … Going into Tuesday's game, the Flames had been outscored 14-8 in the third period this season, but scored three times in the third to get the win.

Puck drop --
As inconsistent as both these teams have been so far, they're only a couple of games off the pace of the top teams in the Western Conference. They've gotten by with a lot of help from unexpected places, but ultimately the stars have to produce.

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