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Flames set for Heritage Classic with Canadiens

by Dave Lozo
CANADIENS (31-21-7) at FLAMES (30-22-8)


Last 10 --
Montreal 4-4-2, Calgary 7-1-2

Season series --
This is the second and final meeting this season between the teams. The Canadiens emerged with a 5-4 overtime victory in Montreal on Jan. 17.

Big story --
It's the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, the second NHL outdoor game on Canadian soil. It will take place at McMahon Stadium, which is where the CFL's Calgary Stampeders play their home games. The Canadiens took part in the 2003 Heritage Classic against the Oilers at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. The game-time temperatures are expected to be around -13 degrees Celsius (8 degrees Fahrenheit).

Team scope:

Canadiens -- The Habs have been entrenched in a top-eight spot in the Eastern Conference all season, but they are in the midst of their roughest stretch.

The Canadiens suffered a 4-1 loss to the Oilers on Thursday and are 1-3-2 in their last six games. The Habs have allowed 21 goals in that stretch, which is out of character for a team that's been ranked in the top 10 in goals allowed all season.

"We need these points bad," center Scott Gomez said. "When you're on the road, you look at the way Calgary's playing, it's a big challenge for us. It'll be the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of … the main thing is getting the points and playing a good, solid game, but it's like anything in life, it's going to be a great experience and something we'll always talk about."

Flames -- The Flames enter this game as one of the hottest teams in the West. They are 7-1-2 in their last 10 and 16-4-5 since late December.

The Flames have received contributions from everyone during this hot stretch and it continued in their 4-2 victory against the Stars on Wednesday. Tom Kostopoulos, Cory Sarich and Steve Staios were among the goal scorers in the come-from-behind victory.

They've been taking everything one game at a time, so they'll look to do the same despite the massive spotlight that will be on them in the Heritage Classic.

"That's going to be the balance we have to find," said captain Jarome Iginla. "It's a fun experience. For a lot of us, it's going to be once in a lifetime. It's going to be pretty cool, but it is a very important game for us. Two points means so much right now. We want to enjoy it, but at the same time, make sure we're prepared."

Who's hot -- Habs rookie David Desharnais has 2 goals and 5 assists in his last 6 games. … Iginla has 3 goals and 6 assists in his last 7 games. Olli Jokinen has 4 goals and 7 assists in his last 6 games.

Injury report -- Canadiens defenseman James Wisniewski is hoping to play after taking a puck to the face against the Oilers on Thursday. He skated Saturday in a full cage. Forward Michael Cammalleri, out since Jan. 18 with a separated shoulder, will make his return, as will defenseman Hal Gill. … The Flames will be missing defenseman Adam Pardy, who is out with an upper-body injury.

Stat pack -- Outside of a 4-for-6 showing in an 8-6 loss to the Boston Bruins on Feb. 9, the Canadiens' power play is 2-for-38 since Jan. 25. … Since this is a home game for the Flames, it's important to note they are 6-0-2 in their last eight games in Calgary, although they were all played in the cozy confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Puck drop -- "Earlier in the year, it seemed like we couldn't get over that hump. We'd play a real good game or two good games, then really bad for one. There was just no real consistency. I don't know if we've been focusing more on the short-term and a one-game-at-a-time sort of thing, there has been a bit more of a consistent effort." -- Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester

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