If you're looking for one glaring reason the Calgary Flames have come up short in their last three games, the obvious answer is their offence.
Specifically, a total lack of it.
"We've got one goal in each game -- you're not going to win many," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla following a 2-1 NHL loss Tuesday night to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.
"I had probably 1-1/2 breakaways. I had some other good chances."
But to his disappointment -- and he isn't alone -- he couldn't make good on any of his opportunities.
The only person scoring with any regularity recently is centre Matt Stajan, and while his production would typically be a great indication of the Flames' success, he's got to get some help in that area for the team to turn around its slumping ways.
Earning single points in their last two games, the Flames are slipping in the playoff race at its most critical point.
The season's leading goal-scorers are coming up empty. Iginla has been blanked in his last three outings, Curtis Glencross is without a goal in his last five. Olli Jokinen has one in his last 10 and none in his past handful. And the only others who've netted double-digit goals this year are either hurt (Michael Cammalleri), returning from a long injury layoff (Lee Stempniak) or stuck in the same scoring slump (Alex Tanguay) as the usual suspects.
"We're getting chances -- there's no doubt about it. But you've got to score. You've got to score in this league to win games," said Stajan, who pointed to the production during a five-game winning streak that preceded this slump.
"When we won those string of games, we were scoring four, five goals a night. The last three, we've been getting the chances, but we're not scoring -- and that's been the difference."
His teammates can't possibly argue that.
Miikka Kiprusoff has only allowed five goals against in regulation in their last three games, losing once in a shootout and Tuesday night in overtime.
"Kipper's playing great," said Iginla, who isn't happy with the lack of production by the powerplay, which has gone 0-for-13 in the last five contests.
"In one-goal games, you've got to be the difference. We weren't. We haven't been. We got to the net. We got some rebounds. We got some good chances. They just didn't go in.
"For us, we stay with it. Pretty much our last five periods of hockey have been pretty good. It doesn't feel that good, but you stay with it, they'll go in."
The effort was obvious Tuesday night. Plenty of scoring chances were created, but they were shooting blanks.
"The work ethic's there, that's a positive," Stajan said. "Everybody wants it -- there's no question."
Hard work without results, however, is not a luxury they can afford with eight games remaining while stuck in 11th place in the league's Western Conference.
"Scoring one goal a game? We need more than that right now," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter.
"It was a hard-fought game (Tuesday), and both teams hung in there. It was actually a heck of a game, but we've got to capitalize on our opportunities.
"We've got to find ways to score."
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane