NHL Hockey: Calgary Flames at Columbus Jackets – Flames Favored
Red-hot Kristian Huselius looks to extend his point streak to an NHL season-high 14 games Thursday as Calgary opens a three-game road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Flames (29-17-7) have been near the top of the Northwest Division much of this season and a big reason for that success has been the play of Huselius, who is tied for the team lead with 24 goals.
Huselius was acquired from Florida on Dec. 2, 2005 for defenseman Steve Montador and minor league center Dustin Johner.
Montador has been a serviceable player for the Panthers and Johner has yet to reach the NHL while Huselius has flourished in Calgary.
The 28-year-old Swede had 15 goals and 39 points in 54 games with the Flames in 2005-06. He already has set career highs this season with 24 goals, 25 assists and 49 points.
Huselius extended his point streak Tuesday as he scored for the third straight game in a 3-2 shootout loss to Chicago.
During the 13-game streak, which ties him with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the longest in the league this season, Huselius has nine goals and 10 assists.
Although he helped the Flames record a point for the eighth straight game (5-0-3), there wasn’t much for Huselius to celebrate after his team failed to protect a two-goal lead in the final four minutes.
"We weren’t really focused in the third to finish it off, that’s a lesson for sure," Huselius said. "Now we have to refocus and go on the road again."
Calgary, which also visits Buffalo and Detroit on this road trip, is tied with last-place Los Angeles for the fewest road wins in the Western Conference at seven. The Flames have lost four of their last five games away from home (1-2-2).
Their only win in that span came thanks to a shutout from Miikka Kiprusoff, and he appeared to be on his way to another one Tuesday, only to give up two late power-play goals to Martin Havlat before the Blackhawks won the shootout 2-0.
Kiprusoff is among the league leaders in goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts, but the NHL’s reigning Vezina Trophy winner is 0-3 this season and 1-10 all-time in shootouts.
Kiprusoff, who has started 14 straight games, is 8-2-1 with 1.75 GAA in 12 career games against the Blue Jackets (21-28-5).
Columbus set a dubious franchise record Tuesday as it was shut out for the 12th time this season in a 3-0 loss to visiting Phoenix.
The Blue Jackets have been outscored 14-4 during a three-game skid after winning four straight.
"We had some people play well, but we’re not a team that can have three or four players carry us," coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Despite a poor performance the last time out, Columbus has been a very good home team under Hitchcock, going 10-4-1. Wednesday will be the second of six consecutive contests at Nationwide Arena, the longest homestand in Blue Jackets’ history.
Fredrik Norrena started in goal Tuesday after missing three games with a pulled groin. Top netminder Pascal Leclaire, sidelined six weeks with torn knee cartilage, could return Sunday against Chicago.
The Blue Jackets won the first meeting this season 5-4 at home in a shootout, but have lost the last two in Calgary. The Flames are 3-7-1 all-time in Columbus.
by: Gary Roberts – theSpread.com – Email Us
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