One squad will get the upper hand temporarily when the Wild start a three-game road trip against division rivals at Pengrowth Saddledome on Wednesday night against the Flames.
Both teams have 75 points, good for second in the Northwest just two points behind division-leading Vancouver, where the Wild will wrap up their road swing on Sunday after meeting Edmonton on Thursday.
Minnesota (35-23-9) and Calgary (33-21-9) also are looking to move up in the playoff standings - both teams are tied for the seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind sixth-place San Jose
"This time of the year, we need to get as many points out of games that we can," the Wild's Mark Parrish said.
The teams have split four meetings this season, with Minnesota's two wins coming in a shootout, and both teams have been tough to stop lately. Minnesota is 9-2-1 in its last 12 games, including a 4-1 home victory over Edmonton on Sunday.
Goaltender Nicklas Backstrom, playing in place of the injured Manny Fernandez, carried a shutout 7 minutes into the third period and was named the league's First Star on Monday after going 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average last week.
"We have to try to play the same way we are playing now for a couple weeks," Backstrom said in a conference call Monday. "It's like every night, every game is really important. It doesn't matter if you play home or on the road."
Minnesota also seems to peaking on the road at the right time, winning nine of 12 there after a franchise-record 11-game skid that was capped by a 3-0 loss to the Flames on Jan. 9. Backstrom, who made his first career start at Calgary in that contest, finished with 22 saves.
That win improved the Flames to 11-1-0 with two ties in their last 14 at home versus the Wild. Calgary, which is concluding a three-game homestand, leads the league with 26 home wins.
Miikka Kirpusoff, last season's Vezina Trophy winner, will be back in net after getting the night off in Calgary's 5-2 win over Phoenix on Monday. Kiprusoff is 24-6-1 with a 1.97 GAA and four shutouts this season at home, where he's limited Minnesota to two goals in two games.
Against the Coyotes, Wayne Primeau scored his first two goals since being acquired with Brad Stuart earlier this month from Boston.
"He's going to go out there, he's going to be a big body, and he's going to make things happen," said Tony Amonte, who set up both of Primeau's goals. "Especially when you come from another team, you want to get involved, you want to help your team out and show them you can play.
"You could see it on his face after he scored that first one. Just a little bit of relief, happiness, and joy."
Both teams made minor deals before Tuesday's trading deadline.
Calgary picked up defenseman David Hale from New Jersey with both teams also swapping draft picks. Playing his third year in the NHL, Hale had one point in 43 games.
Minnesota got center Dominic Moore from Pittsburgh for a draft pick. Also in his third season, Moore had six goals and nine assists in 59 games with the Penguins.
|Mar 29 '07||CGY 4 at MIN 2||J. Iginla|
|Mar 27 '07||CGY 1 at MIN 0 - SO||A. Tanguay|
|Mar 17 '07||MIN 4 at CGY 2||B. Rolston|
|Feb 28 '07||MIN 1 at CGY 2 - SO||J. Iginla|
|Jan 26 '07||CGY 1 at MIN 2 - SO||P. Demitra|
|Jan 09 '07||MIN 0 at CGY 3||D. Langkow|
|Dec 12 '06||MIN 2 at CGY 5||J. Iginla|
|Dec 07 '06||CGY 2 at MIN 3 - SO||M. Koivu|