FLAMES (40-27-7) at WILD (42-25-7)
TV: SNW, FS-N+, FS-WI
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The ever-changing landscape of the Western Conference's wild card race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs has, at least on Friday, put the Calgary Flames on the outside looking in.
Calgary will have a chance to climb back in with a victory against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-WI, FS-N+), a game that begins a critical five-game road trip for the Flames, one that could be make-or-break for their playoff hopes.
"That’s exactly what it is," Flames forward Joe Colborne said. "It comes down to who can stay hot down the stretch. There's a lot of good teams going at it and it's going to be a great test for us."
None of those games will be easy; the Predators and Blues are two of the best teams in the NHL, the Stars are red-hot and in desperation mode and the Battle of Alberta is always tightly contested.
"You have to take it game by game," Colborne said. "You can't afford to give away points right now. Every night, you hope that you're going to get some luck from the rest of the League and some help but it just doesn't seem to be happening. We have to make sure that we're taking care of ourselves and win every game."
Over that same time, the Wild begin a five-game stretch of games at home. They enter the day one point clear of the Winnipeg Jets for the first wild card and four up on the Flames.
The Wild will play the second of back-to-back games Saturday against the Kings, who already have their players and equipment inside Xcel Energy Center.
Two wins this weekend would go a long way towards securing a playoff spot for the third consecutive season, something the Wild have never done.
"Quite often, that first game … is equally as challenging on a back-to-back," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Sometimes you've got one eye on that second game and we can't afford that right now. We have to make sure we're all into this game. Tomorrow, that will be here for us when we arrive there."
Getting on track at home will be important for Minnesota, which has won 10 consecutive road games but is 3-4-0 over its past seven in St. Paul.
"It comes down to how we play at home," Yeo said. "We can't have any sense that we are just going to be making nicer plays [because we are at home]. Those plays develop by doing certain things [correctly]."
Goaltender Karri Ramo will get the start for the Flames. He was injured in the first period of his only career start against the Wild on Feb. 1, 2014.
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk will start his 33rd consecutive game for the Wild and 34th overall.
Here are the projected lineups:
Status report: Hartley said his lineup is a game-time decision and Shore could be inserted after warm-ups. … Cooke is skating with the Wild but isn't ready to return.
Who's hot: Hudler has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak. He leads the Flames with 66 points this season. … Parise scored a goal in the third period against the New York Islanders on Tuesday and has 11 points in his past 11 games.