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Hot Flames not best option for Sabres' opponent right now

CALGARY, Alberta -- Hot Flames are not what the Sabres need to see at this point.

But that's exactly what Buffalo will be getting Thursday night in the Saddledome. Handicapped by a 1-5 start that they've spent all season trying to pull out of, the Calgary Flames have won three straight for the first time this year and all have come at home.

They beat Dallas in a shootout last Wednesday, Boston in overtime on Friday (scoring the tying goal with two seconds left) and were very impressive in a 4-2 win over San Jose here Tuesday night.

"That was a pretty complete game," standout defenseman Mark Giordano said. "We had some shifts where we really controlled it in their zone. It's a good game by our team and we have to keep this confidence and momentum going. Things are going better in terms of us bearing down on our chances and having pucks go in the net."

The Flames have won seven in a row overall at home, with four of those coming in OT/shootout.

It's all sobering food for thought for the Sabres, who are practicing today around 1:30 local time (3:30 in Buffalo), so your daily practice report will be much later than normal.

The Sabres, of course, dropped the first two games on this trip just when they were on a 3-0-1 high. Losing isn't going over very well in the dressing and that's a welcome change this season, as I wrote in my column in today's editions.

Coach Dan Bylsma and his staff were in the house Tuesday as the Flames moved to 3-0 on their homestand. Strangely enough, it was just their fourth regulation win of the season.

"When I used to work at the plant, I liked overtime because it was a time and a half," joked coach Bob Hartley.  "Over here, wins in regulation are a little easier on the coach and the general manager."

Wins by Toronto and Calgary and an overtime loss by Columbus on Tuesday really clogged up the bottom of the NHL's overall standing -- with the Sabres among a logjam of seven teams within one point of 30th place.

24. Colorado 25 points
25. Buffalo 25 points
26. Toronto 25 points
27. Calgary 24 points
28. Carolina 24 points
29. Edmonton 24 points
30. Columbus 24 points

And keep in mind, Carolina was 19 seconds from getting at least one point in Dallas but gave up a goal to Patrick Sharp in a 6-5 loss at Dallas that spoiled a third-period comeback from a 5-1 deficit. Things are so tight in the Pacific Division that Vancouver has the final playoff spot, at just 28 points.

"Right now we're pulling out of the hole we created for ourselves," Hartley said. "And you look at the standings, we're right there."

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