SUN Hockey Pool

Flames Game Day

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

COMING IN

The Flames have lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since November, including being abysmal in a 6-2 loss Sunday to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.

The Jackets won four of their last five heading into last night's game in Edmonton.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Beating the Flames 3-1 in Columbus in early November, the Jackets evened the lifetime series at 13-13-0-3. They meet twice more this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS

POWERPLAY -- Calgary 19.3% (40-207, 13th); Columbus 11.3% (222-195, 30th).

PENALTY KILLING -- Calgary 85.9% (4th); Columbus 80.4% (19th).

INJURIES

CALGARY -- LW Todd Bertuzzi (hip flexor) is questionable. RW Brandon Prust (fractured jaw), C Wayne Primeau (broken foot), D Rhett Warrener (shoulder) are out.

COLUMBUS -- LW Nikita Filatov (leg), C Jiri Novotny (upper-body), LW Jason Chimera (groin) are doubtful. C Derick Brassard (shoulder), D Rosti Klesla (lower-body), G Pascal Leclaire (ankle) are out.

THREE STORYLINES TO WATCH

1. Juicy storyline: Kristian (Beetlejuice) Huselius returns to the 'Dome after joining the Jackets as a free agent in the summer. He sat out the first meeting this year with a swollen foot after blocking a shot in the previous game but will look to make his mark tonight to show his former team what they're missing. Expect the Flames to be physical with him.

2. Recovery day: After taking Monday off to rest up from a tough weekend when they dropped back-to-back games in regulation for the first time in two months, the Flames look to avoid their first three-game skid of the season. Nobody wanted to use fatigue as an excuse for their efforts, but the team looked tired. Jumping on the Jackets early will be key in the battle.

3. Cracks in the Mason: Rookie goaltender Steve Mason is skipping the NHL's YoungStars game because of back spasms he's been suffering lately. The big 20-year-old has been stellar since taking over the No. 1 job early in the season for the injured Pascal Leclaire, so the Flames offence will have to test Mason and his wonky back early and often.

PLAYERS TO KEEP YOUR EYE ON ...

FLAMES

LW Michael Cammalleri. The Flames goal-scoring leader is on a tear, racking up six goals and a pair of assists during a five-game point streak. He was named the NHL's second star for last week. Cammalleri is capitalizing on recent chances. The 26-year-old pending unrestricted free agent has 20 goals and 42 points in 44 games for the Flames. He's also earned four game-winners.

BLUE JACKETS

RW Rick Nash. The Blue Jackets captain was on a roll before going down with a knee injury two weeks ago. Before going scoreless during a game vs. the Detroit Red Wings Jan. 6, Nash had two goals and eight assists on a five-game point streak. He picked up where he left off with a goal and two assists Friday in his return. The 24-year-old is on pace for 34 goals but is set to shatter his career highs in assists and points.

IT'S WORTH NOTING ...

It's a good thing the Blue Jackets have been able to depend on rookie G Steve Mason, because the seemingly always injured Pascal Leclaire is out for the season with his troublesome ankle requiring surgery.

The Columbus Dispatch reported the Jackets had talks with the Edmonton Oilers about goalie Mathieu Garon and considered claiming Vancouver Canucks backup Curtis Sanford off waivers but ended up going with Wade Dubielewicz, whom they swiped off waivers from the New York Islanders.

Leclaire has bone spurs and torn ligaments in his right ankle, stemming all the way back to a pre-season collision with Minnesota Wild tough-guy Derek Boogaard.

Mason leads the NHL with a 1.91 goals-against average.

BIG BERT ON SECOND LINE?

LW Todd Bertuzzi returned to practice yesterday for the first time in two weeks, taking his spot alongside C Daymond Langkow and RW Rene Bourque. If Bertuzzi can't suit up tonight, D Jim Vandermeer will continue to dress as a forward. Vandermeer says the positions are different and he has to think a lot more up front but is determined to ensure his fellow blueliners' jobs aren't made more difficult by him.

BURE LAST TO OUT-GUN IGGY

Not since the turn of the millennium has someone other than RW Jarome Iginla led the Flames in goals. Valeri Bure was the last to best Iginla in that category back in 1999-2000 with 35 goals. Iginla had 29 that season ... Iginla will participate in the accuracy shooting competition at the all-star weekend superskills, along with Jonathan Toews, Ilya Kovalchuk, Dany Heatley, Marc Savard and Evgeni Malkin. Iggy co-claimed that title beside Markus Naslund in 2002 by hitting all four targets in six shots. Iginla will also take part in the elimination shootout ... RW Rick Nash is the Jackets' all-time leading scorer with 318 points, passing David Vyborny.


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