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Flames try to cool off red-hot Blues

by Jon Lane

BLUES (30-7-5) vs. FLAMES (15-22-6)


Last 10: St. Louis 8-1-1; Calgary 2-7-1

Season series: This is the third and final game between the St. Louis Blues and Calgary Flames. They've split the first two, with Calgary defeating St. Louis 4-3 in a shootout at Scotiabank Saddledome on Dec. 23, the last time the Blues lost a game.

Big story: The Blues look to extend their winning streak to seven straight, which would be their longest since a nine-game run from Oct. 15 to Nov. 5, 2002. St. Louis is 11-1-2 in its past 14 games and has averaged 4.0 goals during that stretch. But despite a 5-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, coach Ken Hitchcock is expecting a lot more.

"We didn't have the focus [in Edmonton] that we've had in recent games," Hitchcock said following a partial skate Wednesday, "and we're going to have to get it back here on this road trip."

The Blues arrive to Calgary 9-2-2 in their past 13 road games and with a 13-4-3 record away from home that's tied with the Detroit Red Wings for the best in the NHL. However, the Flames have played the Blues tough this season. In the first game, St. Louis nearly lost a three-goal lead in the third period before holding on for a 3-2 victory on Nov. 7. The Blues weren't so lucky in the rematch, when they blew a two-goal, third period lead in the shootout loss.

Team Scope:

Blues: A goal and assist from forward Vladimir Tarasenko paced St. Louis to a season-high sixth straight win. Playing in his second game since missing three with an upper-body injury, center David Backes scored his 17th goal in the game at Edmonton to end a five-game drought.

"There's the potential for [the trap]," Backes said. "We looked at some of the film of the last time we played these guys and they took it to us in the first period."

Flames: One night after ending a four-game winless streak, Calgary was beaten 6-0 on the road by the Phoenix Coyotes that left coach Bob Hartley unhappy with his team's performance, especially after falling behind 2-0 in the second period.

''We're part of a process where excuses will not be a part of it,'' Hartley said. ''They were better than us. We kind of fell apart after those two goals.''

Who's hot: Blues goalie Brian Elliott has won his past six starts and was named the League's second star for the week ending Jan. 5 (3-0-0, 1.00 goals-against average, .962 save percentage, shutout). He stopped 16 of 18 shots Tuesday against the Oilers. Tarasenko has six points in his past four games. … Jiri Hudler leads the Flames with 35 points, including a goal and an assist in a road win against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.

Injury report: Blues forward T.J. Oshie (knee) participated in practice Thursday and will play barring any setbacks. Defenseman Roman Polak (lower body) and forward Alexander Steen (concussion) remain on injured reserve … Flames forward David Jones (infection-blurred vision) is day to day. Forwards Curtis Glencross (high ankle sprain) and Blair Jones (meniscal tear), and defenseman Kris Russell (MCL sprain) are on IR.


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