GAME: Edmonton Oilers (12-15-6-0) at Calgary Flames (17-9-2-3).TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST.
No Western Conference team has been better lately than the Calgary Flames.
Goaltending and effective penalty killing are largely responsible for that.
Calgary will try to match a season-high four-game win streak when it faces the archrival Edmonton Oilers.
The Flames, hoping to end a seven-year playoff drought, have been one of the NHL's biggest suprises this season. They have been particularly good this month, going 8-1-1 overall and 4-0-1 at home.
Goaltenders Miikka Kiprusoff and Jamie McLennan are two of the biggest reasons behind Calgary's impressive play. Kiprusoff, acquired from San Jose on Nov. 16, is 9-2-1 with 1.48 goals-against average since joining the team and McLennan is 3-1-1 in his last five decisions.
Kiprusoff and McLennan also have been helped by a penalty-killing unit that has killed 65 of 71 chances in the last 16 games.
Calgary won its third straight, 2-1 at Columbus on Friday despite being short-handed 13 times.
Martin Gelinas and Matthew Lombardi scored in the first period and the Flames killed all 13 Columbus power plays, as Calgary improved to 11-1-2-2 in its last 16 games.
"You can take away what the other team is trying to do and do it half the time, but your goaltender has to make the save at some point. We've been able to do that," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said.
Leading the offense for Calgary are forwards Shean Donovan and Jarome Iginla.Donovan, already one goal shy of his career high of 13, has 10 goals and 16
points in his last 12 games, while Iginla has seven goals and three assists in
"We can't rest on our laurels, we've got to play better," Donovan said. "Everybody in the room knows we can play better than we did against Columbus."
Edmonton is headed in the opposite direction, with just two wins in its last 14 games (2-8-4) and one in its past eight at home (1-6-1).
"It certainly is a desperate time for us and we need to come up with a better effort at home than that," Oilers defenseman Steve Staios said. "It's never too early to look at the standings and see where we're at."
The Oilers were shut out for the fourth time this season, 3-0 by Dan Cloutier and Vancouver on Saturday.
While Calgary's penalty killing has been a big reason behind its success, Edmonton's penalty killers are contributing to the team's struggles.
The Oilers, the NHL's worst team when short-handed, had allowed at least one power-play goal in 14 straight games before holding Vancouver scoreless in six opportunities.