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Jackets try to build off rare win as they take on Flames

by Brian Hunter

BLUE JACKETS (16-20-9) at FLAMES (23-13-5)

Last 10: Columbus 2-6-2; Calgary 6-3-1

Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the season between these teams. The Blue Jackets edged the Flames 2-1 on Oct. 13 behind 22 saves from Steve Mason. Calgary won the next two matchups, as Jarome Iginla contributed a goal and two assists to a 6-3 win on Oct. 20 and Jamie Lundmark provided the decisive shootout tally in a 4-3 victory on Nov. 28.

Big story: With the battle for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference likely to be intense over the next few months, the best way for Calgary to ensure itself a spot in the postseason party is to concentrate on winning the Northwest Division. But that won't be easy, either, as the Flames find themselves in a three-way fight with Vancouver and Colorado. The Canucks tied them for the division lead by winning Thursday and the Avalanche, who also play Friday night, are just a point behind.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets:
How does the team holding down 14th in the West feel better about itself? By facing an opponent that's even worse off, which is what happened for Columbus on Thursday when it took on Edmonton. Four different players scored goals as the Blue Jackets doubled up the Oilers 4-2 to end a franchise-record 13-game road losing streak and win for only the second time in 15 games overall. In doing so, they handed the Oilers their 11th loss in 12 games.

"All we needed was a win. We didn't care who it came against," goalie Mathieu Garon said after stopping 24 shots. "I think it was a desperate game for both teams. Both teams needed this badly, and we played well and came out on top."

Flames: A five-game winning streak for Calgary came to a halt Wednesday as they surrendered a pair of goals to Eric Belanger in a 4-1 loss in Minnesota. Olli Jokinen got the Flames off to a fast start by scoring just 1:34 into the first period, but they managed nothing else against Niklas Backstrom.

"We just weren't quite on top of our game," defenseman Robyn Regehr said. "There were passes that we could have been a lot better with. There were opportunities that we normally take advantage of, or make, that we didn't do. All sorts of stuff like that, and it just leads to giving the other team momentum."

Who's hot:
Kristian Huselius has goals and multi-point efforts in three straight games for the Blue Jackets. R.J. Umberger has goals in two straight. … Jokinen has scored in back-to-back games for the Flames.

Injury report:
Columbus defensemen Rostislav Klesla (groin) and Marc Methot (upper body) and forward Derek Dorsett (hand) are all on injured reserve. Defenseman Mike Commodore has also been out of the lineup since late December. … Calgary forward Craig Conroy (foot) is on injured reserve.

Stat pack: The home team has won 13 of the previous 16 meetings between these teams. … Nash leads the Blue Jackets with 19 goals but hasn't scored in seven games. He does have five assists in as many games.

Puck drop:
Garon and Mason, last season's Calder Trophy winner, have been splitting the goaltending duties of late for Columbus. Mason, who seems to have fallen victim to the sophomore slump, had been playing better of late until he was pulled from his last start against Vancouver, yielding six goals on just 17 shots in under two periods. Still, he would seem to be in line for the start after Garon got the nod Thursday.

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