Facing one of the league's top defenses, Calgary searches for its fourth straight win Friday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome, where it has won 20 of 23 meetings with the Wild.
While the Northwest Division-leading Flames (36-18-6) have taken all three matchups this season with Minnesota (30-24-5), they have won each one by a goal with two victories coming in overtime.
In winning 11 of the last 13 overall meetings, Calgary has won by more than two goals once. Despite a 17-2-1 record with three ties all-time at home against the Wild, the Flames have won by three only twice.
If there is a blowout on the horizon, it might come in this contest as Calgary has revived an offense that's averaging 3.15 goals this season. Since scoring seven times during a season-high four-game skid from Feb. 2-7, the Flames have tallied 29 goals to help fuel a 6-0-2 run.
Like his team, Calgary captain Jarome Iginla has broken out of a slump.
While Iginla has 24 goals and leads the Flames with 66 points, he scored just four times during a 25-game stretch from Dec. 17-Feb. 14. He had two goals and two assists on Tuesday in a 4-1 win over visiting Columbus.
"I'm relaxing more now," said Iginla, who now has four goals and three assists in his last four games. "When you start pressing, you don't move as quickly and you don't see things as sharply. I'm also playing with a little bit more confidence."
That confidence could get tested against the Wild, who have held him in check recently. Iginla has one point in the last four games and three goals in the last eight.
Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff has allowed five goals while winning his last three starts to push his league-leading total to 36. He's also won all three starts versus the Wild this season, and is 13-1-0 with a tie, two shutouts and a 1.72 goals-against average all-time at home against them.
While the Wild are one of the NHL's best defensive teams with 137 goals allowed, they're also near the bottom in scoring 152. That struggling offense has kept the Wild in the middle of the crowded Western Conference standings with 65 points.
Niklas Backstrom, whose 2.20 GAA places him among the league leaders, has five wins in his last eight starts. Only one of those losses, though, has come in regulation and he's coming off a 2-1 shootout defeat Tuesday night to visiting Los Angeles.
Despite 24 saves from Backstrom, Minnesota managed only a short-handed goal by Antti Miettinen in the second period and missed on three of four shootout attempts. Backstrom gave up the only Kings goal when teammate Kim Johnsson mistakenly pushed the puck past him in the second period.
"The number of shots, the number of scoring chances, it is pretty identical," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We needed a break somewhere, even on the shootout. You get a break there and you win."
The Wild got Andrew Brunette back after a two-game absence - ending his ironman streak at 509 games in the process - but Owen Nolan, who has 17 goals and six in his last six games, sat out with a lower-body injury suffered Sunday in a 2-1 win over Chicago. His status isn't known for Friday.
|D. Van Der Gulik||1||0||0||0||+0||0||0||0|