SUN Hockey Pool

Not so Hot-lanta

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

ATLANTA — The last time the Flames won here, they were the home team.

Since the Flames franchise left Atlanta for Calgary for the 1980-81 NHL season, it has come up empty in six attempts to win in its birthplace.

The only point they’ve managed against the Thrashers in Georgia was claimed in a 3-3 tie back on March 11, 2001.

“That’s pretty brutal,” said Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr, who finished plus-1 in 24 minutes of work during that draw in his second season. “I didn’t know that.

“We’re due,” he added with a laugh. “Might as well break the streak.”

Flames captain Jarome Iginla also was blissfully unaware of the ugly drought as they headed into Thursday night’s game against the Thrashers.

“I never knew that. I don’t know how many games we’ve played here,” Iginla said Wednesday after skating at the Thrashers practice facility. “I won’t be bringing it up with the guys.

“We’re due, right? The law of averages.”

Because of how infrequently these two teams play, not many memories stand out to the veterans who’ve been involved in past meetings.

But both Regehr and Iginla recall one particularly bad outing a few years ago — March 13, 2008.

“I remember being up quite a bit and them coming back,” Iginla said of the game they lost 6-4 after staking themselves to a 3-0 lead early in the second period, with two of the goals to his credit. “It was a pretty tough loss.”

“Oh, that was bad,” added Regehr. “I remember the last few games we’ve played here, we haven’t played that well.”

They’re playing great now.

Currently on a season-high five-game winning streak, they’re tightening the Western Conference playoff race.

Losing four of their last five, the Thrashers are clinging to eighth place in the east.

“We’re playing pretty decent hockey here the last 12, 15 games, and getting really solid efforts from everyone, playing good, solid hockey,” Regehr said.

“We know we’re going to be facing a team just like ours. They’re desperate. They need every single point that they can get.

“Hopefully, it will be a good game and we’ll break that streak.”

Moving up in the standings is even more important to the Flames, who admittedly are peeking at the seedings even though they remain focused on their smaller goal of winning two of every three games.

“Last night when we landed, I think pretty much everybody was trying to see what happened with the other games,” winger Alex Tanguay said Wednesday of their

priorities after beating the Predators 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday in Nashville.

But they no longer look just at the eighth seed — a spot that was nine points out of reach just two-and-a-half weeks ago.

The fourth-place Preds are just a handful ahead of the Flames now.

“It’s not only the last (playoff spot),” Tanguay said.

“Really, if we have a good stretch, we can get home-ice advantage for the playoffs.”

They can start by beating the Thrashers in their home for the first time.

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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