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Predators face test against Northwest-leading Flames

by Brian Compton /
FLAMES (16-6-3) at PREDATORS (15-9-1)

Last 10 -- Calgary 6-2-2; Nashville 8-2-0.

Season series -- This is the first of four meetings between the teams. They haven't faced each other since Jan. 30, when Miikka Kiprusoff made 28 saves in the Flames' 3-1 win at Pengrowth Saddledome.

Big story -- Both teams are on a roll. Should they get at least a point on Monday, the Flames would tie a franchise record with points in 10 consecutive games. Meanwhile, Nashville's victory against the Florida Panthers on Saturday was its eighth in nine games and has the Preds within four points of the Chicago Blackhawks for the Central Division lead.

Team Scope:

Flames -- Calgary enters Monday's action in search of its third straight win. The Flames, who currently sit atop the Northwest Division, improved to 2-0 on their six-game road trip with a 4-3 shootout victory at Columbus on Saturday. Jamie Lundmark tallied the shootout winner after Dustin Boyd and Nigel Dawes scored late in the third period to erase a 3-1 deficit.

"You're on the bench, then all of a sudden, you're all alone on the ice," Lundmark said. "It can be intimidating."

Predators --
Monday marks the end of Nashville's three-game homestand, and naturally the Preds are hoping to finish on a winning note. Dan Ellis helped put them in a position to do just that with a 23-save effort against Florida on Saturday in what was his first appearance since Nov. 10.

"He didn't look rusty at all," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought Ellis would be fine, because he prepared really well. There were times last year when he didn't prepare the way I thought he should, and it started to show in his game. I was confident that he'd be fine. He's got good practice habits, and he hasn't let it slip. He's matured from last year."

Who's hot --
Flames center Olli Jokinen has 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) in his last 11 games, while Dawes has scored in each of his last three contests after going 12 games without a goal. … Preds forward David Legwand has matched a career high with points in five straight games. He has 3 goals and 3 assists since his son, Ryder, was born a few hours before a 4-3 win against Columbus on Nov. 21.

Injury report --
Calgary forward Rene Bourque is questionable with an undisclosed injury, but he is skating. Cory Sarich (undisclosed) is not expected to play. … Nashville is boasting a healthy lineup.

Stat pack -- Saturday was the first of the Predators' 14 wins this season, and the last 23 going back to March 3, 2009, that was decided by more than two goals.

Puck drop --
This could be dubbed a measuring-stick game for Nashville, which could really solidify itself as a legitimate contender in the Western Conference with a victory against the red-hot Flames.

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