Preview: Flames at Blues

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[December 19, 2015]  The Calgary Flames have put their early-season struggles in the rear-view mirror and strung together seven straight victories as they prepare to visit the St. Louis Blues on Saturday afternoon. The Flames can tie the longest winning streak in Calgary history and pull within two of the franchise record set in 1978-79, when the team was in Atlanta.

Calgary, which opened the season 2-7-0, started this month with a perfect five-game homestand and has taken that play on the road with victories at Nashville and Western Conference-leading Dallas. Red-hot forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan will take on the challenge of St. Louis, which edged the Predators 2-1 on Thursday to build its first winning streak in more than a month. The Blues still are tied for the second-most points in the Western Conference despite their uneven play to start December while Vladimir Tarasenko has scored in four straight games to push his season total to 20. “The man can shoot the puck,” St. Louis captain David Backes told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s impressive.”

TV: 3 p.m. ET, Sportsnet West (Calgary), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)

ABOUT THE FLAMES (15-14-2): Gaudreau leads a group of players who have been producing regularly with three goals and four assists in his last four games and tops the team with 33 points. Monahan has posted nine points in his last seven contests and defenseman TJ Brodie has collected eight in his last eight. The Flames are on a roll despite converting only 2-of-47 chances with the man advantage in their last 14 games and standing last in the league in goals-against average (3.35).

ABOUT THE BLUES (19-10-4): Tarasenko only has three official game-winning tallies but has scored numerous timely goals, prompting goaltender Jake Allen to tell reporters. "That’s tough to find. They’re one in a million, and we’ve got one." Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has recorded a goal and seven assists during his six-game point streak while Backes has notched four and three, respectively, during an identical run. The Blues will face the league’s worst penalty-killing unit Saturday and are 6-for-11 on the power play over his last five contests.

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1. The Blues have earned at least one point in eight straight meetings (7-0-1), including a 4-3 victory on Oct. 13 in Calgary.

2. Calgary is last in the league on the power play (10.8 percent) while St. Louis ranks second in penalty-killing (87.4 percent).

3. St. Louis backup G Brian Elliott (4-3-2, .907 save percentage) is expected to get the start.

PREDICTION: Blues 3, Flames 2

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