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With five consecutive wins, the Colorado Avalanche has turned its season-opening three-game losing streak into a distant memory.
The Avalanche will try to win its sixth in a row and third straight away from home Tuesday when the club faces the Calgary Flames - a team looking for its fourth consecutive victory.
Colorado (5-3-0) opened the season with three straight losses - something it hadn't done since starting 0-4-0 in 1998-99 - with this season's skid capped by a 5-4 defeat at Calgary on Oct. 14. The Avalanche, though, have managed to turn things around quickly.
Ryan Smyth, Milan Hejduk and Wojtek Wolski converted in the shootout for a 2-1 victory over Buffalo on Saturday, pushing the Avs closer to their first six-game winning streak since Feb. 26-March 8.
"These are the games and stretches that can make a difference down the stretch," said Smyth, who assisted on former Flame Jordan Leopold's goal in the third period. "Winning these two points makes a difference."
Peter Budaj made 29 saves through overtime, and stopped three of the five attempts he faced in the shootout to win his third straight start. He's posted a 1.62 goals-against average during that span.
While Budaj has been doing his part to shut down opponents, his counterparts haven't had much success in stopping Budaj's teammates. The Avalanche has 19 goals during its run, although three of the wins have come by one goal.
Colorado has 30 goals - led by Milan Hejduk's six - to rank among the NHL leaders.
Budaj is likely to be back in net to face a Calgary club that's paced offensively by Todd Bertuzzi and Jarome Iginla, the team leaders with six goals apiece. The Flames recorded a season high in goals in the 5-4 win over the Avalanche on Oct. 14, as Bertuzzi scored twice and Iginla added a goal and an assist.
On Saturday, Bertuzzi scored and Iginla contributed a goal and two assists to lead Calgary (4-3-1) to a 4-1 win at Phoenix.
The Flames held a 36-24 edge in shots and Miikka Kiprusoff made 23 saves, giving him a 1.67 GAA during Calgary's win streak. The veteran goalie posted a 4.37 GAA during the Flames' 1-3-1 start.
"We limited their chances to score, and that was important for us," Flames coach Mike Keenan said. "We defended the goal well and did the small things to get a chance to win. Right now, we have four lines playing well, and we need that consistency going forward."
Kiprusoff is 4-5-3 with a 2.97 GAA in his last 12 starts versus the Avalanche, while Budaj is 3-1-0 with a 3.89 GAA in his last five against the Flames.
Iginla has five goals and seven points in his last three games, and he's recorded 24 goals and 58 points in 66 games against Colorado - his highest point total versus any opponent. Bertuzzi has 11 goals and 19 assists in 43 games against the Avs.
Avs center Paul Stastny has 11 goals and 12 assists in 16 games versus Calgary.
Colorado has won 10 of the last 15 meetings with Calgary, taking the 2007-08 season series 5-3-0. The teams split four contests at the Pengrowth Saddledome.