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Jackets try to end slump vs. Flames

by John Kreiser
BLUE JACKETS (31-25-7) at FLAMES (33-24-9)

TV -- FS-Ohio; SNET-West (HD)

Last 10 -- Columbus 5-3-2; Calgary 5-3-2

Season series -- It's the fourth and final meeting between the Western Conference playoff contenders. Calgary has won the last two and took the only previous meeting in Calgary by winning 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 13. Columbus won 3-1 a week later in the most recent meeting.

Big story -- Games are growing scarcer for both teams as the Blue Jackets continue a Western Canada swing that has seen them get just one point in stops at Vancouver and Edmonton after a loss in Nashville on Sunday. The Flames are back home after splitting two games in the Midwest, winning 6-0 at St. Louis but losing 6-4 the next night at Chicago. Calgary enters the night in eighth place with 75 points; the 12th-place Jackets are six points out.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets -- The Jackets saw their playoff hopes take a big hit when they fell behind the last-place Oilers 3-0 on Thursday and couldn't quite come back. They got within 3-2 and had chances to tie the game in the final minutes, but an empty-net goal sealed a painful 4-2 loss.

"I don't think we were prepared for the game," forward Derek Dorsett said. "We got sloppy and were turning too many pucks over."

Flames -- After two games of superb defense, the Flames couldn't hold down the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, falling behind 4-1 after two periods in a 6-4 loss.

"We gave up over 20 quality scoring chances and that's not good enough," he said. "When you score four goals on the road, you need to buckle down. You need to win the game."

Who's hot -- Newcomer Scottie Upshall has goals in his first two games with Columbus after coming over from Phoenix in a trade on Monday. … Calgary captain Jarome Iginla has back-to-back three-point games. Miikka Kiprusoff posted consecutive shutouts against St. Louis before being lifted in the loss to Chicago.

Injury report -- Columbus defenseman Anton Stralman is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a knee injury. Forwards Kristian Huselius (lower body) and Derick Brassard (hand) are on injured reserve. … Calgary center Brendan Morrison left Wednesday's game with a knee injury.

Stat pack -- Iginla is 3-5-8 in his last six games against Columbus. … Calgary has just one regulation loss in its last 13 games against Columbus at Scotiabank Saddledome (10-1-2).

Puck drop -- There doesn't figure to be a lot of goals in this game. Columbus has scored three goals or fewer in its last seven games against Calgary, though the Jackets have won three of the seven. Columbus has also managed just five goals in the first three games of its five-game trip.

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