FLAMES (11-4-1) at SABRES (10-4-1)
Calgary 7-3-0; Buffalo 6-4-0
This is the only meeting this season. In 2008-09, the Flames defeated Buffalo at home, 5-2, on the strength of Mike Cammalleri's hat trick. Calgary fired 43 shots at Sabres goalie Ryan Miller
. Todd Bertuzzi and Dion Phaneuf also scored for the Flames.
Flames vs. Sabres -- might not sound like a marquee matchup, but what we have here is a meeting between two teams in the top five of their respective conferences with a combined 96 goals for and 77 goals against. Also, Calgary has one of the best road records in the League and Buffalo has lost only two in regulation in nine games at HSBC Arena. Lastly, how about two Olympic-candidate All-Star goaltenders in Ryan Miller
and Miikka Kiprusoff
? This should be a fun contest.
This is the second game in a three-game road trip, which began with a 1-0 win at Montreal on Tuesday.
Kiprusoff made 25 saves for his first shutout of the season and Jarome Iginla
scored for the fourth straight game. Calgary now has a four-game win streak.
"He's definitely in the groove right now. He's having fun right now, you can see it. … He's definitely on top of his game," Iginla said of Kiprusoff's play.
The Flames are 5-1-1 on the road, and have won four straight overall. "The important thing here is you form an identity with your team, how you're going to play, and whether it's at home or on the road, you've got to stay with it and play that way. That allows you to have success on the road," coach Brent Sutter told the Calgary Sun. "With that, you don't get rattled when you’re playing. You trust what your team's doing."
This is the second game in a two-game homestand that began with a 3-1 victory against Edmonton on Wednesday, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Buffalo is near the top of the League in shots per game (34.3) and has a .889 winning percentage when scoring the first goal. However, its 2.80 goals per game is only 16th-best in the NHL. Miller is making the scoring stand-up with his near-perfect play. He has appeared in 13 of 15 games.
"I think there's no doubt that the secret to any team's success is in goal and Ryan has to be the backbone for us to succeed," coach Lindy Ruff said. "Strong goaltending can lead a lot of teams a long way and Ryan is a key for us. He's playing extremely well right now and we'd like to keep him in his groove."
For the Flames, Iginla has 5 goals and an assist in his last four games, Nigel Dawes has 4 assists in his last three games, and Rene Bourque
has 5 goals and 10 assists in his last 13 games. For the Sabres, Derek Roy
has 3 goals and an assist in his last four games, Tim Connolly has 3 goals and 11 assists in his last 11 games, and Jason Pominville
has 4 goals and 7 assists in his last 12 games.
The Flames have no injuries to report. For the Sabres, defenseman Toni Lydman (groin) is on injured reserve, and goaltender Patrick Lalime (groin) is day-to-day.
Tuesday's shutout was the 31st of Kiprusoff's career and also his 200th win since joining the Flames from the San Jose Sharks for the 2003-04 season. … Kiprusoff has allowed only two goals in his last three starts, during which he stopped 87 of 89 shots. … Roy’s 14-0 night in the faceoff circle on Nov. 4 against the Islanders was the most impressive performance by a Sabre since Curtis Brown went 19-0 against Atlanta on Oct. 4, 2001. … Buffalo has a 46-32-16-0 all-time record against Calgary.
This matchup features eight players already with double-digit point totals and quite a few hot scorers, but Kiprusoff and Miller can put a stop to the point party in a hurry and still make it an entertaining game to watch.