AV's @ Flames
By LAURA MEDINA
The Colorado Avalanche certainly want to extend their winning streak, but doing so at the expense of a division rival would be even sweeter.
Seeking their fourth straight victory, the Avalanche open a home-and-home set against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at Pengrowth Saddledome.
After a five-game skid from Oct. 28-Nov. 6, Colorado (8-8-0) has won three straight one-goal games, but still remains at the bottom of the Northwest Division.
On Saturday, Darcy Tucker scored with 10.7 seconds left in regulation, and added the winner in the fifth round of the shootout to lift the Avalanche to a 3-2 victory at Edmonton.
"We didn't play our best game," said Tucker, who has three goals in four games. "(Edmonton) played a pretty good hockey game for the most part and we just found a way to win it and sometimes you just need to find ways to win games when you haven't played your best."
The Avalanche will need to play better versus the Flames (9-8-1). Colorado won five of eight from Calgary in 2007-08, but has lost the first two meetings on the road this season. The Avalanche dropped a 5-4 decision on Oct. 14, then fell 3-0 two weeks later to give the Flames their only shutout win of 2008-09.
The teams, which meet again on Thursday in Denver, are separated by three points in the tightly-packed Northwest.
Calgary plays three of its next four at home, where it is 6-2-1. The Flames have won three straight and are 10-2-2 against the Avs at the Saddledome since 2005-06.
But the Flames are coming off a 6-1 loss to league-leading San Jose on Thursday, and have dropped five of seven after a season-high six-game winning streak.
"We're very disappointed, but we have a huge opportunity with back-to-back Colorado and back-to-back Vancouver (Nov. 27-29)," Craig Conroy told the Flames' official Web site. "Those are huge games and opportunities for us."
Michael Cammalleri - second on the Flames with 15 points - scored against the Sharks. He has a goal and three assists versus the Avalanche this season, giving him five goals and 13 assists in 16 career meetings.
Paul Stastny leads Colorado with 12 assists and 15 points, and will be playing his first game after signing a five-year contract extension on Monday. In 17 career games against Calgary, he has 11 goals and 12 assists.
It's unclear if the Avalanche's Joe Sakic will return after missing the last two games because of a strained back. The longtime Colorado captain is third on the club with 12 points, but his 40 goals and 103 points against Calgary are the most he's had against any opponent.
Peter Budaj has compiled an outstanding 0.96 goals-against average during the Avalanche's winning streak, but is 4-6-1 with a 3.96 GAA in 13 career matchups versus the Flames, including both defeats this season.
Miikka Kiprusoff, meanwhile, is 2-4-0 with a 4.91 GAA in his last six starts for Calgary. He's beaten the Avs twice this season to improve to 5-1-1 with a 1.88 GAA in his last seven starts.