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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, February 24th (All times eastern)

Columbus Blue Jackets (30-24-6) at Calgary Flames (35-18-6), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Calgary's Pengrowth Saddledome was a tough place for opponents to play at in January, but that hasn't been the case this month. The Flames will try to reverse that trend tonight, when they play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Calgary owns one of the better home records this season at 20-7-4 and won six of their seven games at Pengrowth Saddledome in January. However, the Flames have stumbled as the host in February, dropping three of their four games at home this month.

They will need to turn things around quickly on home ice, as tonight marks the first test of a three-game homestand for the Flames, who notched a 3-2 shootout win in Edmonton on Saturday.

Matthew Lombardi tied the game late in the third period and Todd Bertuzzi scored the lone goal in the shootout to give Calgary at least a point in a seventh straight game (5-0-2). Miikka Kiprusoff made 26 saves to notch his league-leading 35th win of the season and help the Flames again avoid their first regulation loss since February 7.

The Flames, who lead the Northwest Division by eight points over Vancouver, played without Daymond Langkow for a second straight game due to a bruised hand. Langkow has 18 goals on the year and is questionable for tonight.

Like Langkow, Andre Roy (concussion) is questionable for tonight's game, while Rene Bourque could miss up to two months due to a high ankle sprain. Bourque is in the midst of a breakout season that has seen him post 21 goals, 19 assists and 40 points through 58 games.

Calgary's home success in January included a 5-4 shootout win over Columbus, the Flames' fourth win in its last five as the host versus the Blue Jackets. Calgary is also 7-0-2 in its last nine as the host versus Columbus, having not lost to the club at home in regulation since March 29, 2003.

The Blue Jackets, who have won seven of their last 12 overall versus the Flames, have lost just twice in their last eight games (6-1-1) but did fall last time out. Columbus had a two-game win streak end with Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Rick Nash finished with a goal and an assist for the third consecutive game and Kristian Huselius also tallied for Columbus. Steve Mason, second in the NHL with a 2.17 goals against average, took the loss after giving up all five goals on only 13 shots.

Tonight could mark the Columbus debut of forward Chris Gratton, who was claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. The 33-year-old played in only 18 games for the Lightning this season, collecting two assists. The third overall pick in the 1993 NHL draft by the Lightning, Gratton has 214 career goals and 353 assists in 1,086 games with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Phoenix, Colorado and Florida.

The Blue Jackets hope that Gratton will provide some veteran leadership to a club that has yet to make the playoffs since entering the league prior to the 2000-01 season. Columbus is currently sixth in the Western Conference, two points behind Vancouver.

Columbus is 11-14-4 on the road this year and begins a three-game tour of Western Canada tonight. The Blue Jackets visit Edmonton on Thursday and then Vancouver on Sunday.

02/24 11:10:54 ET


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