Flames on hot streak, full of confidence
With captain Jarome Iginla leading the way, the Calgary Flames have picked up the pace following a mostly sluggish first two months.
Enjoying a season-best three-game winning streak, the Flames look to continue their recent domination of the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Calgary (14-13-2) won eight of its first 21 games but has since gone 6-1-1, completing a perfect homestand over the weekend.
Iginla scored his team-leading 10th and 11th goals during a 3-0 victory over Edmonton on Saturday and he's carried the Flames offensively during their turnaround. His five goals and six assists over the last eight games make up more than half of his 21 points on the season.
"Our whole game as a group is getting better," he said. "Our confidence is growing, we're moving the puck better, we've got more puck possession and we're skating better and our goaltending's been outstanding all season."
That's mostly because of Miikka Kiprusoff, who has gone 6-0-1 with a 2.19 goals-against average and two shutouts in seven starts during the eight-game surge. He made 21 saves versus the Oilers.
Nashville (14-11-4) is all too familiar with how dominant Kiprusoff can be.
The veteran has started each of the last 19 matchups in the series, going 14-4-1 with a 1.97 GAA and three shutouts — his highest total versus any opponent since the start of the 2007-08 season. Kiprusoff most recently beat the Predators 1-0 on Nov. 29, making 26 saves.
Calgary has taken 10 of the last 11 games from Nashville in which Iginla has registered at least one point.
While things are certainly looking up for the Flames, the Predators also appear to be improving, winning two in a row following a 2-6-1 stretch.
Two days after a 4-3 overtime victory at Columbus, the Predators defeated Anaheim 3-2 on Saturday. Right wing Jordin Tootoo returned from a two-game suspension to notch a goal and an assist, giving him four of each in his last eight contests.
Nashville is enjoying some rare success on the power play this season, going 7-14 in five games this month and converting on 20.4 per cent of its opportunities overall. During the previous four seasons, the Predators ranked second to last in the league at 15.5.
"We played a good power play again [versus Anaheim]," said Predators rookie defenceman Roman Josi, who scored his first NHL goal.
"We had a lot of chances. We're just clicking right now and making good plays."
Pekka Rinne, who snapped an 0-5-1 skid with a 21-save effort against the Blue Jackets, stopped 15 shots Saturday. Rinne is 1-5-2 with a 2.52 GAA in nine career starts versus Calgary, earning his lone win in a 2-0 road victory Oct. 22.
While the Predators could have difficulty containing Iginla, they might not have to worry about facing Alex Tanguay. The forward, who leads Calgary with 14 assists, is uncertain to play after sitting out against the Ducks with flu-like symptoms.
The Flames begin a four-game trip Tuesday and play 11 of their next 13 away from home. They are 6-8-0 on the road after losing four of six there.
Nashville defenceman Shea Weber, second on the team with 21 points, has been limited to two assists in his last 12 meetings with Calgary.