Chance to bury the Avs

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Now, it's the Calgary Flames' turn to be the hunted.

Thanks to their four-game winning streak heading into tonight's clash with the Colorado Avalanche, the Flames have the pleasure of being the top dog in the Northwest Division.

Sure, it's a tenuous perch, being one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild and two up on the Vancouver Canucks, especially since both those teams have a game in hand.

Further back is the Avalanche, a team sitting four points back of the No. 8 spot, and knowing full well a loss tonight to the Flames would put a serious crimp on their playoff aspirations.

Colorado (31-26-6) has only three wins in the last 10 games, but it's a team that will be buzzing with the return of Joe Sakic from injury and yesterday's signing of Peter Forsberg, although he won't join the team for a few days.

"We look at the standings, too, know what a log jam it is, and we're still desperate, too," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "We had a good week, it felt good winning, and we want to continue it. These division games, four-point games, are as big as ever."

What a week it was for the Flames (33-22-8).

Prior to their four-game run, they were six points behind Minnesota for top spot in the division. They cobbled together four wins in four different cities, all a different time zone from the previous outing. That's no small feat.

"It was a fun week," Iginla said. "This time of year, a lot of teams get into your style of play and make sure you're doing it consistently, and the last week -- for the most part -- we did that.

"Some games weren't the best from us as a group in front of Miikka (Kiprusoff) but we found ways to win them.

"That's important for good teams, it's not always perfect, you've got to win ugly."

Much of that success can be credited to goaltender Kiprusoff.

He was the NHL's second star of the week, going 3-0 with a 0.67 GAA, .980 save percentage and one shutout. He stopped 100 of 102 shots.

"He'd been playing well a long time, but I'd say he took it to another level this last week," Iginla said. "This time of year, it's (about) the best goalies and he's right at the top. The games are more important, you can see he's right in his groove."

If there could be one complaint about the wins, it's been the disparity on the shot clock. Calgary has been outshot by a huge margin.

Head coach Mike Keenan, who called Kiprusoff's performance "fantastic", said he isn't too concerned.

"We were absolutely forced to stay back and play four people in the neutral zone because (the Wild) were stretching their forwards to the far blueline," Keenan said.

"I think our game is coming together. We've focused on what we want to continue to improve upon as a group."


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