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Desperate Wild face tough task in Flames

Saturday, 03.28.2009 / 9:00 AM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Wild are trying desperately to claw their way back into a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the latest step on that path won't be an easy one Saturday night as they visit the Flames (10 p.m. ET, CBC, NHLN-US), who are desperate for points of their own as they try to hold off the Canucks and stay atop the Northwest Division.

Also Saturday, the Bruins try to strengthen their lead in the Eastern Conference when they visit the Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHLN-US). The Devils, four points back, host the Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET, GCL), who are in their own battle with Philadelphia for fourth place in the conference. The Flyers, who visit the Islanders (7 p.m. ET, GCL) start the night one point ahead of Carolina.

There will be a fight for positioning at the bottom of the East. The Sabres, five points behind the eighth-place Canadiens, have a chance to cut into that lead Saturday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS). The Panthers, two points behind Montreal, visit Dallas (8 p.m. ET, GCL).

Other games Saturday see the Predators visit the Kings; the Senators playing in Atlanta; the Blue Jackets in St. Louis; and the Sharks hosting the Coyotes.

Here's what to keep an eye on:

* Predators left wing Steve Sullivan, who missed nearly two full years with a back injury, has 13 assists and 21 points in 33 games since returning in January. Sullivan, who has had 20 goals in his last eight seasons, has 11 of his 13 assists at home.

* Boston center Marc Savard, who has had at least 60 assists in the three previous seasons, is five shy of making it four straight. Of his 55 assists this season, 35 have come at even-strength, tying him for second in the League.

* Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who had a 1-5-1 record with a 3.75 goals-against average in February, is 4-2-2 with a 2.95 GAA in March.

* Carolina has the longest current winning streak in the Eastern Conference at five in a row. They entered Saturday's games fifth in the Eastern Conference, but as recently as March 8, they were out of the top eight.

* Flyers right wing Mike Knuble, who played on a line with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne for the bulk of this season, is one of five Philadelphia players with more than 25 goals. Knuble, who has six straight 20-goal seasons, has scored just 7 of his 26 goals on the road.

* Atlanta center Rich Peverley, who had 2 goals and 9 points in 27 games with the Predators, has 10 goals and 28 points in 32 games with the Thrashers since being claimed off waivers. As good as he's been, however, he hasn't scored a goal in his last eight games.

* Panthers center Stephen Weiss leads the team with 53 points, but has just 5 points in is last 11 games.

* St. Louis center Keith Tkachuk, who is second on the team with 13 power-play goals, has 20 goals and 40 points in 42 career games against the Blue Jackets, but has just 1 goal in three games this season.

* Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf is second among Northwest Division defensemen with 43 points, has just 6 points in his last 12 games. Phaneuf, who was a finalist for the 2008 Norris Trophy, averages the fifth-most ice time in the League at 26:33 per game.

* San Jose right wing Jonathan Cheechoo has 14 goals and 25 points in 32 career games against the Coyotes, including 2 assists in their last game. Cheechoo, who entered the season with four straight 20-goal seasons, has just 9 goals this season.

* Wild right wing Marian Gaborik, who has played just 134 of 238 games since the start of the 2006-07 season, has 3 goals and 5 points in the three games he has played since returning from a hip injury which saw him miss 38 games.

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.

 

Quote of the Day

It was pretty unbelievable...I think (my family in France) is pretty much in front of the TV right now. I don't think I have to wake them up.

— 29-year-old Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare after scoring his first NHL goal
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