A four-game winning streak assured the Calgary Flames a strong finish to 2008. Extending that success against a struggling opponent would make for an even better start to the new year.
The surging Flames play their first game in 2009 on Saturday night as they try for their third consecutive victory over a Nashville Predators team that has dropped its last three contests.
After enduring a season-high three-game slide from Dec. 9-12, Calgary (22-11-4) regrouped by winning six of its next seven (6-0-1) to overtake the lead in the competitive Northwest Division.
The Flames have won their last four, most recently 6-4 at home over provincial rival Edmonton on Wednesday night to inch closer to matching their season-high six-game winning streak from Oct. 21-Nov. 1.
Calgary's first line combined for 12 points against the Oilers. Captain Jarome Iginla and Michael Cammalleri each totaled a career-high five points with two goals and three assists apiece, while center Craig Conroy had two assists to move within one point of 500 for his career.
"It feels good," said Iginla, the Flames' leader with 18 goals and 45 points. "It was a good way to end the year (with) a team effort."
Miikka Kiprusoff, who's started 35 of Calgary's 37 games this season, made 28 saves Wednesday for his league-leading 22nd victory.
He's played in the last seven meetings against Nashville, winning five of those matchups despite a 3.12 goals-against average. He made 35 saves in a 5-3 road win Oct. 23 and held off the visiting Predators 7-6 on Nov. 6 after blowing a four-goal third-period lead.
Calgary's top line has also been successful against Nashville (17-17-3). Iginla has 23 goals and 44 points in 34 games, notching his eighth career hat trick in the October matchup and two goals and two assists in November.
Cammalleri has a goal and two assists in the last two meetings, while Conroy has 14 goals and 31 points in 43 contests. He has three goals and three assists during a three-game point streak against Nashville.
The Predators opened a four-game homestand with their third straight loss, 2-1 to Vancouver on Thursday. They're 3-7-1 since a season high-tying three-game winning streak from Dec. 1-6.
Nashville's greatest concern has been its offense. Last in the Western Conference with 91 goals, the Predators have managed just nine in the last seven games.
"(We) have got to score," coach Barry Trotz told the team's official Web site. "We're scoring a goal a game and it's hard to win because there isn't much of a margin for error."
Captain Jason Arnott tops the Predators with 14 goals but has only scored once in 13 games, while J.P. Dumont - Nashville's leader with 23 assists and 30 points - has been limited to three assists in 10 games.
Both, though, could get a boost by facing Calgary. Arnott has 25 goals and 46 points in 48 matchups, including two goals and two assists this season, while Dumont has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak versus the Flames.
Backup Pekka Rinne, who made 30 saves Thursday, gave up four goals on 10 shots before being pulled for Dan Ellis in the Predators' loss to Calgary in November. Ellis has allowed seven goals on 45 shots in losing his last two outings against the Flames.