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Preview: Flames vs. Avalanche

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

AVALANCHE (36-31-4) at FLAMES (30-35-5)

TV: ALT, SNF, NHL-TV (7:00 PM MT)

Season series: The Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames split the first two games, each at Pepsi Center. The Avalanche defeated the Flames 6-3 on Nov. 3 and the Flames won 4-0 on Jan. 2. Jarome Iginla scored two goals and had an assist for the Avalanche. Captain Mark Giordano has a goal and an assist for the Flames.

Avalanche team scope: Goalie Semyon Varlamov is expected to make his fifth consecutive start. He made 28 saves in a 3-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday. The win moved the Avalanche past the Minnesota Wild and into the second wild card in the Western Conference. "Right now, we're not looking at the standings anymore. We just need to win our games," Varlamov told the Avalanche website. "We're in a good position, and I can tell you it's up to us." Defencemen Chris Bigras missed his fourth game on Wednesday with concussion-like symptoms. Coach Patrick Roy said Bigras will be re-evaluated prior to the game and said if he is healthy, he will play. In his absence, Andrew Bodnarchuk has played with Eric Gelinas on the third pairing. Captain Gabriel Landeskog serve the final game of his three-game suspension. The Avalanche have won three of their past four games.

Flames team scope: Goalie Joni Ortio will make his seventh straight start, and Nicklas Backstrom will make his first start since being acquired prior to the NHL Trade Deadline against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. Defenceman Dennis Wideman, who sustained an upper-body injury in the first period on Wednesday, had an MRI on Thursday. "He was getting tested this morning," coach Bob Hartley told the Flames website. "Unfortunately I don't have anything new." Defencemen Mark Giordano and Deryk Engelland did not practice, but are expected to play. Forward Sam Bennett (upper body) and defenceman TJ Brodie (upper body) practiced on Wednesday, but are doubtful. Goalie Karri Ramo (knee) and defencemen Ladislav Smid (neck) are out. Left wing Kenny Agostino was reassigned to Stockton of the American Hockey League. This concludes a six-game homestand for the Flames, who have gone 3-1-1. The line of Mikael Backlund, Joe Colborne and Michael Frolik has combined for nine goals in the past five games.

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