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Flames look to extend streak to 8 against Blues

4:00 PM AST Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Calgary

Calgary
15-14-2, 3rd Pacific
Calgary:
Home Record: 10-5-0
Away Record: 5-9-2
St. Louis

St. Louis
19-10-4, 2nd Central
St. Louis:
Home Record: 10-6-2
Away Record: 9-4-2

It’s been four years since Calgary last won in St. Louis, but a decade since they’ve had a winning streak this long.

The scorching Flames go for an eighth consecutive win Saturday afternoon against a Blues team seeking a sixth straight victory in this series.

Though Calgary (15-14-2) has achieved most of the success at home during its unbeaten run – its longest since winning eight straight from Nov. 1-16, 2005 – it’s opened a challenging four-game trip by yielding two goals in victories over Nashville and Dallas. After making 21 saves in Tuesday’s 2-1 decision over the Predators, Karri Ramo had 35 as the Flames shut down the Stars’ high-powered offense in Thursday’s 3-1 triumph.

Sent to the minors earlier this season, Ramo has cemented himself as Calgary’s No. 1 goaltender by winning five straight starts and allowing four goals over his last three.

”We’re playing way better as a five-man unit,” said Ramo of the Flames’ defensive improvement. ”Our D and forwards have been playing way better together, and we are cutting our turnovers. We are not giving them anything.”

The Flames have turned it around in spite of an anemic power play that’s 0 for 12 over a four-game stretch and 2 for 47 in the past 14. Calgary has outscored teams 25-12 at even strength during the surge.

That disparity may need to continue if Calgary is to halt a five-game skid to St. Louis (19-10-4) and earn its first win at Scottrade Center since April 1, 2011. The Flames have been outscored 22-7 in six consecutive road losses in the series.

The Blues rank second in the NHL with a 87.4 percent penalty kill and hadn’t allowed a power-play goal in nine straight prior to Thursday’s game against Nashville, in which David Backes and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in the third period to rally St. Louis to a 2-1 win.

Tarasenko has scored in four straight and has six goals over his last seven to tie for the league lead with 20. The standout wing is the first Blues player since Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour (1983-88) to reach that mark in three consecutive seasons before age 25.

”I’ll tell you 16 or 17 of his goals have been really important,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. ”He’s been outstanding when the game’s on the line.”

Backes has four goals and three assists over a six-game point streak and Kevin Shattenkirk has eight points during a six-game run. Both have been prime contributors to a power play that’s 6 for 11 through the past five games.

“We’ve needed our power play, it’s come through for us big time,” Hitchcock said.

Calgary is receiving strong production from its skilled youngsters as well, with 22-year-old Johnny Gaudreau having amassed seven goals and five assists during the streak while 21-year-old Sean Monahan has nine points. Monahan scored for the fourth time in five games Thursday.

The duo will face a goaltender in top form if Jake Allen draws another start. He stopped 27 shots against Nashville to move to 4-1-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average over his past five outings.

Brian Elliott started when the Blues posted a 4-3 win in Calgary on Oct. 13 behind rookie Colton Parayko’s two goals.

Coleton MacDonald
The Founder of Weliveforhockey.com
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