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Preview: Flames @ Avs

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

Their captain just reached an impressive milestone for points, but the Calgary Flames may not have enough of their own to make the postseason.

The Flames hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive Sunday night as they play their final road game of the regular season against the Colorado Avalanche.

Needing three points to become the 77th player in league history to reach 1,000, Jarome Iginla had two goals and an assist in Friday's 3-2 win at St. Louis. His game-deciding goal with 5:03 remaining moved him within one of reaching 40 for the fourth time in his career.

"It just makes me reminisce and how much fun it's been and how fortunate I've been to play as long as I have," Iginla said.

While the veteran forward has been surging with nine goals and three assists in the last seven games, the Flames (39-29-11) are hoping their slump is over after winning Friday following a 2-5-2 finish to March.

Coach Brent Sutter's club is three points back of Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the Blackhawks have two games in hand.

If the Flames lose in regulation Sunday and Chicago earns a point that night versus Tampa Bay, Calgary will fail to make the postseason after missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 2002-03.

The Flames also will be eliminated Sunday with one point plus a Blackhawks victory.

Calgary, though, should have a good shot at picking up two points against the lowly Avalanche (29-40-8) before hosting Edmonton and Vancouver to close its schedule.

Colorado is 5-24-2 since Jan. 18 and has been outscored 21-7 while losing four straight to Calgary since winning the first meeting of the season.

In the teams' last matchup in Denver, the Flames scored five times in the opening 17:01 and won 9-1 on Feb. 14.

Iginla scored twice in that game and in a 5-2 home win over Colorado on March 17.

Miikka Kiprusoff turned away 27 shots in that matchup, improving to 4-0-0 with a 1.80 goals-against average versus the Avs this season.

Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj could get a second consecutive start after snapping a personal six-game skid with 35 saves Friday in a 4-3 shootout win at Phoenix. Budaj, who earned his 100th career victory, is 1-3-0 with a 5.05 GAA versus the Flames this season.

Avs center Ryan O'Reilly tied Friday's game late in regulation with his seventh goal in 13 games. He had no goals and one assist in his previous 16 contests.

"He's been playing very well lately," coach Joe Sacco said. "He's made good progress in his game the last month or so."

The Flames are 17-16-7 away from home and will finish with their fewest road victories since going 13-20-8 in 2006-07.

Colorado has dropped 12 of 14 in Denver.

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