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Flames try to stay hot as Senators come to town

by John Kreiser

SENATORS (37-25-5) at FLAMES (33-24-9)

Last 10 -- Ottawa 5-4-1; Calgary 6-3-1

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the second and final time this season. On Feb. 9, the Senators held off the Flames 3-2 at Scotiabank Place. Jason Spezza's goal late in the second period made the difference as the Senators won for the 12th time in 13 games. The victory ended a five-game drought against the Flames.

Big story -- Calgary's playoff hopes appeared to be on life support a week ago after a 4-0 home loss to Minnesota, but the Flames have rebounded with three consecutive wins -- including a huge 4-2 victory at Detroit on Tuesday. The big change has been a sudden surge of offense -- the Flames scored 14 goals in the three wins. They'll hope to continue the offensive outburst against an Ottawa team that ended a three-game slide with a 4-1 win at Edmonton on Tuesday but that hasn't played well since the Olympic break.

Team Scope:

Senators -- Ottawa won 14 of 16 before the Olympics, but was just 0-2-1 in its first three games after the Games before scoring three times in the third period to win at Edmonton on Tuesday. The three-goal third period matched Ottawa's entire output during its three-game slide.

"We didn't play well the first two games after the Olympics but we had a gutsy effort to build from in our last one (against Toronto) with a bunch of guys sick," said captain Daniel Alfredsson, who missed Saturday's game with the flu before matching a season high with three assists against the Oilers.

Flames -- The Flames' new No. 1 line of Jarome Iginla, Matt Stajan and Rene Bourque has been sizzling. The trio has combined for 18 points in the three games it's been together -- and not coincidentally, the Flames have won all three, including the victory at Detroit on Tuesday that put the Flames back into eighth place in the West.

"It's been great -- we've won all three games," Stajan told the Flames' Web site. "That's what you look for. It doesn't matter who scores, we're just looking for wins. We know, as a line, we've got to make sure we do our part. Right now we're clicking and we'll keep working hard and hopefully that chemistry keep building."

Who's hot -- Ottawa goaltender Brian Elliott, who beat the Flames last month, is 13-3-0 in his last 16 games with a 2.15 goals-against average. … Iginla has 4 goals and 7 points in the Flames' last three games. He now has 31 goals, the ninth consecutive season in which he's had 30 or more.

Injury report -- The Senators have been devastated by the flu, though Alfredsson was able to return on Tuesday. Defenseman Filip Kuba is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Forward Nick Foligno (broken leg) and defenseman Chris Campoli (knee) are on injured reserve. … The Flames are as healthy as a team can be with exactly a month to go in the season.

Stat pack -- Bourque, who's one goal shy of matching his career-high of 21, had a hat trick the last time the Senators came to the Pengrowth Saddledome. Calgary won that game 6-3 on Dec. 27, 2008. … The loss to the Senators in February was the first for Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in six career decisions.

Puck drop -- Ottawa's hot streak has the Senators solidly in the top eight in the East and challenging Buffalo for the Northeast Division title. The Flames are more desperate -- they enter the game leading Detroit by a point for the final playoff berth in the West. Calgary needs its new top line to continue putting goals on the board to keep ahead of a pack of teams nipping at its heels.

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