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Preview: Flames vs. Coyotes

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

COYOTES (30-21-9) at FLAMES (28-23-9)


Last 10: Phoenix 8-1-1; Calgary 5-2-3

Season Series: Second of four meetings. Shane Doan's power-play goal 3:05 into overtime lifted the Coyotes to a 2-1 win over the Flames on Feb. 9 in Phoenix. Taylor Pyatt opened the scoring in the first period and Mike Smith turned aside 23 of 24 shots, allowing only a goal to Olli Jokinen early in the third.

Big Story: There's no hotter team in the Western Conference at the moment than Phoenix, which has surged from 12th place at the start of the month into a tie with San Jose atop the Pacific Division standings. The Coyotes still sit seventh because the Sharks have played two fewer games and hold the tiebreaker, but they know if they can continue this streak the No. 3 seed is well within their grasp. They also made a pre-trade deadline move Wednesday, picking up center Antoine Vermette from the Blue Jackets.

On the flip side, Calgary occupied the eight seed for a couple days after winning in Los Angeles on Saturday, but dropped back into ninth after getting routed by Edmonton on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: A division showdown with Los Angeles on Tuesday threatened to put a resounding halt to the overwhelming success Phoenix has enjoyed in February, as the visiting Kings raced to a 3-0 lead after the first period. A regulation win would have drawn them even with the Coyotes in points, but Doan and Radim Vrbata teamed up to make sure that didn't happen. Each scored a power-play goal early in the second to cut the deficit down to one, and after the Kings went up 4-2, Doan struck again late in the second and Vrbata connected again on a power play in the third. Mikkel Boedker's shootout goal then completed an improbable 5-4 win.

"We didn't have the start we wanted," said Vrbata, who reached 30 goals for the first time in his career. "We knew that they would come out hard and they did. We were flat in the first (period) but after the first we talked in the dressing room about how we wanted to make a comeback. … (It was) a big win, a big two points."

Flames: A goal by defenseman Scott Hannan midway through the first period seemed like a good sign Calgary was well on its way to a 10th straight win over Edmonton in the famed "Battle of Alberta." The Flames entered the night already having taken 10 in a row over the Oilers at the Scotiabank Saddledome. But their opponents woke up in the second period and blitzed Miikka Kiprusoff for four goals, part of a run of six unanswered tallies by the Oilers as they handed the Flames a 6-1 defeat. It was Calgary's first regulation loss since Jan. 31.

"This is probably one of our worst efforts of the year," defenseman Cory Sarich said. "We'll learn from it, shelve it and put forth a lot better effort in the next game."

Who's Hot: Vrbata, who needs 5 points to set a new career high, has 8 goals and 6 assists in his last 11 games for the Coyotes. Smith allowed four goals Tuesday for the first time in a month, but still ran his winning streak to eight games. … Mike Cammalleri is enjoying his best stretch since the Flames re-acquired him, with 3 goals in his last five games.

Injury Report: Phoenix forward Kyle Chipchura missed Tuesday's game due to a wrist injury. Defenseman Derek Morris (personal) is out indefinitely. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla (upper body) and forward Taylor Pyatt (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Calgary defenseman Chris Butler (leg laceration) is out indefinitely. Defenseman Derek Smith (ankle) and forwards David Moss (ankle), Curtis Glencross (knee), Lee Stempniak (ankle), Blair Jones (ankle) and Mikael Backlund (arm) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: The Coyotes, who have the NHL's 30th-ranked power play at 13.7 percent, scored three power-play goals in a game for the first time since their opener Oct. 8 against the Sharks. … Kiprusoff was pulled after two periods against the Oilers and Henrik Karlsson made his first appearance for the Flames since Dec. 4, stopping seven of eight shots. Karlsson had just been activated off injured reserve after missing time with a knee injury.

Puck Drop: Phoenix showed it's serious about making a third straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and getting beyond the first round this time by picking up the veteran Vermette, a member of Ottawa when it went to the Final in 2007. He had career highs of 27 goals and 65 points for Columbus two seasons ago.

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