Flames-Blues Preview

With four games left, the Calgary Flames have little margin for

error as they look to earn a playoff berth. A matchup with the

suddenly high-scoring St. Louis Blues could make it tough for the

Flames to end their untimely slump.

Calgary, though, can sweep the season series for the first time

since 2006-07 on Friday night as they face a Blues team coming off

its best offensive performance in 17 years.

The Flames (38-29-11) are three points behind Chicago for the

final Western Conference playoff spot, but the Blackhawks have two

games in hand. Calgary is also battling Dallas, which will have one

game in hand over the Flames going into Thursday’s action.

Calgary’s slim postseason hopes took a major hit with a 4-2 home

defeat to Anaheim on Wednesday.

“Obviously a disappointing loss,” said coach Brent Sutter,

whose team has dropped seven of nine. “We’re not quitting, we have

four games to go here and you never know what can happen. But

obviously losing tonight, our odds diminish.”

The Flames, though, have won all three meetings with the Blues

(35-32-10) this season and are 10-2-1 in their last 13 visits to

St. Louis. In the lone matchup there this season, Calgary won 6-0

on March 1 as Miikka Kiprusoff posted his second consecutive

shutout of the Blues.

Kiprusoff, 17-2-2 with a 1.74 goals-against average versus St.

Louis as a member of the Flames, turned away 27 shots in a 1-0

victory over the Blues on Feb. 27.

He has gone 2-4-1 with a 3.75 GAA in his last eight starts, but

could be in net to face a St. Louis club that is coming off a 10-3

victory at Detroit on Wednesday. Nine Blues scored in the team’s

highest-scoring game since an 11-1 win at Ottawa on Feb. 26,

1994.

‘We just kept pushing and it started steamrolling,” said

forward Cam Janssen, who ended a 114-game goal drought.

Since totaling 42 goals during a 5-11-0 stretch from Feb.

21-March 22, the Blues have scored 22 times during a 3-0-1 run.

Chris Stewart has sparked the surge with a team-best five goals and

two assists.

“The guys know how important it is to start creating success

now,” coach Davis Payne said. “We could talk about what hasn’t

happened this season, but we’re just focused on working to lay the

groundwork for us down the road. Good habits aren’t something you

just turn on, you have to work to create them.”

T.J. Oshie has apparently learned that lesson. The third-year

center will return Friday after serving a two-game suspension for

missing Monday’s practice.

“I was irresponsible. I made a mistake,” Oshie said Thursday.

“I realize that. It was my full responsibility to get here (on

Monday) and get here on time.”

Jaroslav Halak has gone 1-3-0 with a 3.02 GAA versus Calgary.

Backup Ty Conklin made 16 saves in a 4-1 road loss to the Flames on

Jan. 26 that ended the Blues’ five-game point streak in the

series.

Whoever starts in goal could be tested by the Flames’ Jarome

Iginla, who has 12 goals and 19 assists in his last 17 games at St.

Louis.

Iginla is three points shy of 1,000.