Success on the road could go a long way toward helping the Calgary Flames return to the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season. Visiting the punchless New York Islanders for the first time in more than four years Thursday night could be just what the Flames need to open a three-game trip in strong fashion.
Calgary (37-27-9) is ninth in the Western Conference, four points back of eighth-place Detroit.
Of the Flames' final nine games, six are on the road with five coming in the next six contests. Despite dropping eight of their last 12 on visiting ice, they remain a solid 18-11-6 away from home on the season.
"We control our own fate," left wing Eric Nystrom told the team's official Web site. "The reason we are in this position is because of the way we played earlier in the season. We have a chance to put together a good string and redeem ourselves during the stretch by winning games."
The Flames did just that at home Tuesday, beating Anaheim 3-1 for a fifth win in eight games -- each contest determined by two goals or fewer.
"They are not all going to be pretty wins in an 82-game schedule," defenseman Robyn Regehr said. "The important thing for us is the win.
"For us the next one is even bigger game than this one. And it is going to be that way all the way down the line. So we need bigger efforts from everyone."
Jarome Iginla, the team leader with 32 goals and 68 points, has four points in his last three games. However, the captain has only one goal in his last seven games, and none in his last three on the road.
Iginla has seven goals and four assists in eight career road games against the Islanders (29-34-10), helping the Flames win six of them.
Calgary has won 11 of its last 14 overall meetings with New York, including a 5-2 home victory in the most recent matchup Jan. 8, 2009. The Flames dropped their last visit to Nassau Coliseum, 3-2 on Jan. 12, 2006.
While Calgary is battling for a playoff berth, the fading Islanders are 10 points behind Boston for eighth in the East with nine games left.
They can't even find the net right now, getting shut out for a second consecutive game Wednesday in a 5-0 loss to the New York Rangers. One of the worst offensive teams in the NHL with 189 goals, the Islanders were outshot 44-27 and trailed by three goals by the 8:30 mark of the first period.
"Embarrassing," said right wing Kyle Okposo, who's come up empty on five shots in the last two games. "We came out flat. We weren't ready to play. They had 14 shots in the first 10 minutes. That's not the way we play hockey here."
Dwayne Roloson will likely be in net looking to rebound from a rough performance. He allowed three goals on the first 12 shots Wednesday before recovering to finish with 39 saves.
"I can't worry about anybody else," said Roloson, who spent his first two NHL seasons in Calgary from 1996-98. "I've just got to focus on what I do and try to give our guys a chance."