Flames host Blue Jackets seeking 5th straight home win

The Flames are hoping to get healthy as they continue their push for a playoff spot. Calgary will have forward Lee Stempniak back on the ice this evening as it goes for a fifth straight home victory in a meeting with the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Flames are 11th overall in the Western Conference with 80 points, leaving them two back of the Sharks and Kings for the eighth and final playoff position with 10 games to play.

It hasn't been easy for Calgary to stay in the hunt given its rash of injuries, but the club did get a boost from 19-year-old Sven Baertschi, who scored three goals in five games as an emergency call-up. However, with Blake Comeau returning from injury last week and Stempniak cleared to come back from a high ankle sprain that has sidelined him since Jan. 31, the Flames were forced to return Baertschi to the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.

"When we made the decision to recall Sven under emergency conditions we were not certain whether he would be with us for a game or two or perhaps a longer period; however, we knew that once two of our injured forwards returned, he would be going back to Portland," said Flames general manager Jay Feaster.

"As we told Sven, we are extremely pleased with the way he played during this brief recall, and now we want him to pick up where he left off in the WHL."

The 13th overall pick of the 2011 draft enjoyed his stint with the Flames, tweeting on Saturday, "Had the time of my life with the @NHLFlames thanks for all the support."

Calgary is still without Mike Cammalleri, Lance Bouma, TJ Brodie and Tim Jackman due to upper-body injuries.

Baertschi's final game with the Flames was a 3-1 loss to the Oilers, one that snapped a five-game winning streak. Mark Giordano scored Calgary's only goal and backup Leland Irving allowed all three tallies on 25 shots, losing to an Edmonton club that sits 14th out of 15 teams in the West.

"Losses this time of the year all sting, it doesn't matter who you're playing against," Flames head coach Brent Sutter said. "We need to be better than we were tonight if we want to get to where we want to get to."

Edmonton also did a great job of shutting down Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, holding him without a goal for the first time in seven contests while snapping his eight-game point streak.

The Flames have still won four straight at home, where they are 20-10-5 on the season. They have won six of eight and eight of their past 11 at home versus the Blue Jackets and had lost the first two encounters this season overall prior to a 2-1 shootout victory in Columbus on Dec. 27.

Calgary will try to avoid another letdown this evening as it battles Columbus, which is last in the NHL standings with 51 points. The Blue Jackets did open up March with four straight victories, but saw their current losing streak stretched to four consecutive outings last night with a 4-3 loss in Vancouver.

Defenseman Jack Johnson had a goal and an assist in the loss, while James Wisniewski and Vinny Prospal also scored. Johnson has three goals, three assists and a plus-4 rating in 10 games since being acquired from the Kings along with a first-round pick prior to the trade deadline for forward Jeff Carter.

Steve Mason was charged with four goals on 38 shots in Saturday's loss.

"We had some mental mistakes against a good team, they'll make you pay," Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards said. "If we want to win games, the effort is there, we just have to play a smarter game."

Columbus fell to 9-23-4 on the road this season.