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Flames, Senators chasing .500 mark

by Tal Pinchevsky
SENATORS (8-9-1) at FLAMES (7-8-1)


Last 10:
Ottawa 5-4-1; Calgary 5-5-0

Season Series: This is the first of two meetings this season between these Canadian franchises. Calgary won both games last season, with Anton Babchuk recording an impressive 5 points in the two contests.

Big Story: Ottawa recently snapped a five-game losing skid that came on the heels of an impressive six-game win streak. While Calgary's swings haven’t been quite as erratic, they're also looking to find consistency in a season that has seen them split their last 10 games.

Team Scope:

Senators: After enjoying a run of six straight wins that was one of the biggest surprises of the young season, the Senators' momentum was mostly undone by a five-game skid, which ended Saturday night with a 5-2 win in Toronto. Four of the five losses in that span came at home, where the Senators played six of seven before starting a season-long six-game road swing with a 5-1 loss Friday in Buffalo.

The following night in Toronto, the Senators erased a 1-0 Maple Leafs lead with three straight goals before potting two empty-net markers to clinch a 5-2 win. Goaltender Craig Anderson helped secure the win with 31 saves, including 15 in the third period. Nick Foligno led the charge offensively with 2 goals while Sergei Gonchar opened the scoring for Ottawa and was a plus-3.

"I think it's huge for us because we've had a lot of games we've kind of been close," captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "To get a win just validates all of the effort you put in and lifts the confidence level of the team."

Flames: While Ottawa has so far been defined by lengthy streaks, the Flames haven't won or lost more than two consecutive games all season. That inconsistency is reflected in their 5-5-0 record in their last 10 games. Following a two-game losing stretch in which they notched a single goal, the Flames found their scoring touch Saturday night in Colorado.

Against the Avalanche, the Flames struck early and often, scoring three goals in the first period before netting a fourth halfway through the second. Colorado did come back, however, cutting Calgary's lead to 4-3 late in the third period before goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff made a game-saving stop on Gabriel Landeskog in the game's final minute. While Calgary's offense found its touch Saturday, it was Kiprusoff who secured the win with 36 saves, including 26 in the latter two periods.

"We had a good period, a good first half (of the game) and they shifted. All of a sudden they were skating more," captain Jarome Iginla said. "They just turned it and got us in penalty trouble and it got a lot closer than we probably would have liked."

Who's Hot: Foligno has paced the Sens' offense of late, with 3 goals in his last three games while Zack Smith has 4 points in his last five games and Milan Michalek has 3 goals in his last four games. … For the Flames, Curtis Glencross has 6 points in his last eight games.

Injury Report:
Matt Carkner (knee), Peter Regin (shoulder), and Chris Neil (ankle) are all on IR for the Senators. … For the Flames, David Moss is questionable for Tuesday night with a lower-body injury while Brendan Morrison (knee) and Babchuk (hand) are on IR.

Stat Pack: Ottawa hasn't had much success against Calgary in recent years. The Senators are 1-7-1 in their last eight meetings with the Flames and haven't scored more than three goals in a game against Calgary in almost a decade -- since Nov. 22, 2001, when Chris Phillips scored twice in a 4-4 tie in Ottawa. The Sens shouldn't expect a repeat performance from Phillips, who has one goal in his last 111 games and hasn't had a two-goal game since Nov. 19, 2009.

Puck Drop:
Following a disastrous 27-point performance last season, Sergei Gonchar is enjoying a resurgence early on this season with 11 points in 17 games. That outburst has coincided with the arrival of 21-year-old Erik Karlsson, who ranks first among NHL defensemen with 15 assists. The two d-men make for an interesting combo, considering Karlsson was 2 years old when Gonchar was drafted by the Capitals in 1992.

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