Mired in the longest home losing streak in club history, the Calgary Flames might be pleased to see the Phoenix Coyotes coming to town.
The lowly Flames can avoid an eighth consecutive loss at the Saddledome on Wednesday night with a fifth straight home victory over a Coyotes team in the midst of its longest road slide of the season.
Calgary (16-27-7) has lost four in a row and 15 of 18 overall and it has been outscored 22-4 during a team-record, seven-game home skid. With a 7-14-3 mark at the Saddledome, the Flames are in danger of posting their first losing record there in 10 NHL seasons.
"It's frustrating for our fans, for sure," said Flames forward Matt Stajan, who has two points in his last 18 games but signed a four-year deal worth $12.5 million Monday.
"Every year, we take pride in wearing this jersey, especially on home ice. We've always had success in this building. In this recent stretch, it hasn't been very pretty."
Either has Calgary's offensive play. The Flames have scored twice in five straight games after totalling six goals during a 1-7-0 stretch. Two days after a 3-2 shootout loss at Vancouver, a game marred by a brawl off the opening faceoff, the Flames couldn't hold a 1-0 lead in Monday's 3-2 defeat at San Jose.
Flames enforcer Kevin Westgarth scored his first goal of the season against the Sharks after he was part of the brawl Saturday that resulted in a $25,000 fine for Calgary head coach Bob Hartley.
"We're disappointed in the loss, but you can't fault the effort," Stajan said. "We had our chances. If we continue to work like that, we'll give ourselves a chance no doubt about it."
The Flames might have a good chance to temporarily end their struggles Wednesday versus Phoenix (23-17-9), which has allowed 16 goals during an 0-3-1 slide at Calgary. The Coyotes outscored the Flames 10-2 in two home meetings this season, but lost 4-1 at the Saddledome on Dec. 4.
Phoenix has totalled five goals during an 0-2-2 road stretch which includes three one-goal defeats. The offence wasn't much better in a recent three-game homestand, but the Coyotes had a chance to sweep it before losing 4-2 to Toronto on Monday.
They matched a team record by scoring a power-play goal in eight straight games with Mike Ribeiro's early in the third, but that came after they already trailed 3-0. Phoenix allowed two power-play goals and has surrendered 10 in 10 games this month.
"There are little things that come back to haunt us off and on all year and those continue to be areas of concern and areas we have to improve in," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett told the team's official website.
Antoine Vermette scored short-handed for his second goal in three games after going 11 without one.
Martin Hanzal had a goal with an assist in Phoenix's 6-0 win over Calgary on Jan. 7 and he could return after missing Monday's contest with a lower-body injury.
"He was close to playing," Tippett said. "Just one of those things we're better keeping him off for a day."
The four goals Mike Smith allowed against Toronto matched his total yielded in the previous three games. He has a 3.91 goals-against average during a three-game skid at Calgary. Backup Thomas Greiss was in net for last month's loss at Calgary, then made 27 saves for his second career shutout two weeks ago against the Flames.