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Desperate Flames host Blue Jackets

by John Kreiser
BLUE JACKETS (22-42-7) at FLAMES (34-26-12)

TV: FS-Ohio (HD); SNET-Calgary (HD)

Last 10:
Columbus 4-6-0; Calgary 6-3-1

Season Series:
It's the fourth and final game between the teams this season. The last-place Blue Jackets have won two of the first three, including a 4-3 shootout win on Dec. 1 in their previous visit to Scotiabank Saddledome.

Big Story: The Blue Jackets are going nowhere but home when the season ends on April 7, but the Flames have no intention of joining them. However, Calgary enters the night 11th in the Western Conference and is coming off a damaging 3-1 loss at Edmonton on Friday -- a defeat that became more costly when three of the four other teams the Flames are battling for a playoff spot all won Saturday while Calgary had the night off.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: The result wasn't what the Jackets wanted, but effort in Saturday's 4-3 loss at Vancouver was light years better than the performance Columbus turned in during a 3-0 loss at Edmonton three nights earlier. The Jackets skated hard and managed 36 shots on Vancouver's Cory Schneider, only to come up a goal short.

"It's been the story of the year," said defenseman James Wisniewski, who had a goal but was in the penalty box on Daniels Sedin third-period power-play goal that turned out to be the game winner. "I don't know how many times I've said it. We just come up a little too short sometimes. You can't say we didn't play hard, didn't play well."

Flames: Losing a game they desperately needed in their playoff quest was bad enough. Losing to their biggest rivals was even worse. But one night after a home win against Phoenix on Thursday, the Flames fell behind by two goals after one period in Edmonton and never recovered, managing only one goal in a 3-1 loss.

Defenseman Mark Giordano, who had the only goal in Edmonton, said the Flames can't dwell on the loss -- nor can they look past the NHL's last-place team.

"We've got to reload and be ready for the Columbus Blue Jackets," he told the Calgary Sun after Saturday's practice. "They're playing spoiler, too, so they're in the same position (as the Oilers). They're playing hard, so we have to treat that game as if it's any team around us in the standings."

Who's Hot: Calgary captain Jarome Iginla had his six-game goal-scoring streak snapped on Friday but has scored seven times in his last seven games. …

Injury Report: The Jackets are without Derek Dorsett (upper-body injury), goalie Steve Mason (lacerated left hand), Derek MacKenzie (concussion) and Fedor Tyutin (broken right hand). … Calgary will have forward Lee Stempniak (ankle) back in the lineup; however, the Flames are still without forwards Tim Jackman (upper body), Michael Cammalleri (upper body) and Mikael Backlund (arm), as well as defenseman Chris Butler (leg).

Stat Pack: Though the Jackets have struggled for most of their existence, they've made life tough on the Flames. Columbus is 22-16-5 all-time against the Flames and has outscored Calgary 112-111.... Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff is 11-0-3 with a 1.88 goals-against average and two shutouts in 14 lifetime home meetings with the Jackets.

Puck Drop: The improved health among some of their forwards has forced the Flames to return 2011 first-round pick Sven Baertschi to Portland of the Western Hockey League. Baertschi was an emergency recall due to injuries, and made an impression by scoring goals in three straight games before being blanked on Friday.

"As we told Sven, we are extremely pleased with the way he played during this brief recall," GM Jay Feaster said, "and now we want him to pick up where he left off in the WHL."

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