CALGARY - The Calgary Flames are hoping a change of scenery in sunny California will bust them out of their recent run of inconsistency.
The Flames (12-14-2) have gone 4-3-1 in their past eight games, including a 4-2 win at home Tuesday over the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they haven't been able to win two games in a row during that stretch.
As Calgary heads south to face the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, coach Flames Brent Sutter wants to see a new pattern.
"This winning one, losing one isn't doing us any good," he said Wednesday. "All we're doing is just kind of spinning our tires here and we need to start taking the steps. We've played some good hockey, but now we need to get some results consistently over and over again."
Sutter is hopeful that Tuesday's victory over the Lightning will help spark the Flames to a few more wins.
"We've just got to build off of it," Sutter said. "Obviously, we've got to get on some kind of roll here and nail some wins off in a row."
In their first nine games, the Flames reeled off winning streaks of two games and three games en route to a 6-3 record. Since then, they've gone 6-11-2 and have plunged to the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
"We need to string some wins together and we need to start now," said forward Rene Bourque. "We've got to make it happen this time if we want to catch the teams ahead of us."
Despite their struggles, the Flames remain just four points behind the Kings (15-10-0) and five points behind the Ducks (14-13-3), who held down seventh and eighth spots, respectively, in the Western Conference standings heading into play Wednesday.
"It's pretty tight," said goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who has done his part to keep the Flames competitive this season. "We need to put a couple wins together. We just have to get ready and take these next two."
With a pair of victories, the Flames can return to the .500 mark for the first time since early October.
But winning both games in California won't be easy. The Flames are 5-8-2 on the road so far this season while the Kings have gone 10-2 at the Staples Center and the Ducks have compiled a 9-6-1 record at the Honda Center.
"Anaheim's a tough building to play in," said forward Tom Kostopoulos. "They've got a good team there. Lots of guys can put the puck in the net and they've got solid goaltending as well. It's going to be two tough games."
Kostopoulos played two seasons for the Kings back in 2005-06 and '06-07 and is looking forward to making his return to L.A.
"We really want to get this next one," said Kostopoulos, who scored on Tuesday night to record his first point as a Flame in 11 games since being acquired in a trade from the Carolina Hurricanes. "It's a team we're chasing, so it's going to be a playoff mentality. They've got a good, young team that works hard so it's going to be a tough game there."
Getting back to .500 is the main focus for the Flames now and defenceman Mark Giordano has confidence that they can do it.
"Let's break that plane first and then go from there and try and chip away at it," said Giordano, who is riding a five-game point-scoring streak. "The only way we're going to do that now is we string some games together. One win, one loss, one win, one loss—time's going to run away if you keep doing that."