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FLAMES (25-22-7) at COYOTES (25-21-8)
TV: SNET-W (HD)
Last 10: Calgary 5-3-2; Phoenix 5-4-1
Season Series: Amazingly, the Western Conference rivals are meeting for the first time this season -- they will play four times in less than five weeks. The Coyotes swept all four games last season. Calgary has lost its last four visits to Jobing.com Arena.
Big Story: One night after Miikka Kiprusoff became the 27th goaltender in NHL history to reach the 300-victory mark by beating the Sharks in San Jose, the Flames head to the desert for a game vital to both teams' playoff hopes. The Coyotes enter the night with 58 points -- the same as eighth-place Minnesota, which has played one fewer game -- and one more than the Flames.
Flames : A pair of Finns made the difference for the Flames as they ended a five-game losing streak to the Sharks and moved within one point of eighth place in the West. Kiprusoff was stellar in a 34-save performance, but he was upstaged for First Star honors by Olli Jokinen, who had the seventh hat trick of his career and first in nearly three years.
"He played outstanding and made some huge saves," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "I've never seen him play better. We are all very happy for him and it's neat to do it back where he started his career."
Jokinen also had an assist for a four-point night.
"It's nice to get a hat trick, but it's nicer to get the 300th win for Kiprusoff and the two points in the standings," Jokinen said. "It's a tough building to get points and we were able to get two."
Coyotes: The 'Yotes looked like they were almost ready to get bounced out of the playoff race in the West when they lost 4-1 at home to Anaheim in their first game after the All-Star break. But coach Dave Tippett's team has regrouped and won its last three games, including a solid 4-1 victory at Dallas on Tuesday night.
Several Coyotes say a string of three practices between the loss to the Ducks and Saturday's 5-3 win against San Jose may have saved the season.
"We had three pretty tough practices where we pushed pretty hard physically and really challenged each other… and just got back into that 'Coyotes Hockey' frame of mind," forward Taylor Pyatt told Dave Vest from the team's website. "It's helped us."
Since then, Phoenix has beaten San Jose, Detroit and Dallas by a combined score of 14-5.
Who's Hot: Jokinen has seven points in Calgary's last four games. Jarome Iginla has a three-game goal-scoring streak and has five points during that span. … Coyotes center Ray Whitney has two assists in each of the last three games and 10 points during a six-game scoring streak.
Injury Report: The Flames are missing forwards Curtis Glencross and Lee Stempniak with knee injuries; defenseman Derek Smith is out with an ankle problem. … Phoenix defenseman Dave Schlemko is out for the season after foot surgery.
Stat Pack: Kiprusoff is 286-173-7-55 with the Flames. He joined the 300-win club less than a month after former teammate Evgeni Nabokov, who beat him out for the No. 1 job in San Jose before the Sharks traded him to Calgary.
Puck Drop: Tippett deserves a lot of credit for putting the wheels back on the bus when it looked like his team was headed for a crackup. He, in turn, gives the credit to his players' improved focus as they try for a season-best fourth straight win.
"I think we're playing well as a group right now," he said Wednesday. "We've got good energy; our players are competing very hard. There's a lot of little details in the game that we've been very strong in. San Jose and Detroit games, we had two good games at home, gave us some momentum."