Flames look to remain hot vs. ice-cold Avalanche

CALGARY, Alberta — The Calgary Flames have enjoyed considerable success against teams below them in the NHL’s Western Conference standings.

The Flames (20-17-2) want to keep that going when they host the Colorado Avalanche (12-24-1) at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

“We have some big divisional games with teams that are chasing us,” Calgary captain Mark Giordano told Flames TV.

After facing the Avalanche, who they beat 6-3 in Denver on Dec. 27, the Flames will face the Canucks (18-18-3) in Vancouver on Friday before a rematch between the same two teams at the Saddledome the next night.

“We know they’re going to be pushing – there’s desperation,” said Giordano, who admitted that the Flames didn’t play their best game at home on New Year’s Eve when they posted a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. “We’ve got to ramp it up here. It’s all about trying to catch the teams that are ahead of you.

“We feel like we still have a good shot of getting into those top three spots (in the Pacific Division). We’ve got to try and focus on catching those guys. It’s our job not to let anyone else back into it either, so we’ve got to take care of business.”

Teammate Matt Stajan agreed that the Flames can’t look past the Avalanche, who have lost four straight games and nine of their last 10.

“The focus is two points against Colorado and then we know what we have after that,” Stajan said. “There’s never an easy game in the NHL. You’ve got to be ready for every game.

“You’ve got to win a lot of games to get to the playoffs and we know that. We’re in a position right now where we can control our own fate here and if we have a good stretch here, we’ll keep pushing forward.”

The Avalanche will be looking to bounce back from a 3-2 loss they suffered in Vancouver to the Canucks on Monday. Vancouver forward Sven Baertschi, a former Flame, scored the game-winning goal on a power play with 3:37 to play in the third period.

“Some of the penalties we’re taking, it’s getting repetitive, but that’s what’s biting us every night,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said after the game. “We keep repeating the same mistakes and it ends up costing us hockey games. Every mistake we make, it seems like other teams are capitalizing on them. We have to be better, it’s that simple.”

Against the Flames, Colorado will go with goalie Calvin Pickard in net for the sixth straight game. Pickard has started every game since Semyon Varlamov went down with a groin injury and he’s played in 11 of Colorado’s past 13 contests.

“I thought after a couple rough outings and some tough breaks at home that (on Monday) he really settled in and kind of got back to his game,” Bednar said. “Made a lot of big saves for us and kept us in that hockey game and gave us a chance to win.”

Colorado right winger Jarome Iginla, who played a club-record 1,219 games with the Flames from 1996 to 2013, talked to a large throng of reporters in Calgary on Tuesday about returning to his old stomping grounds once again.

“Lots of great memories, and I think it always will be (special),” said Iginla, who also leads the Flames in all-time points (1,095) and goals (525). “Not as strange each time. First it is quite an adjustment, and (I’m) more comfortable with each time. But always fun to come back, for sure.”