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At the Rink: Flames at Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche forwards Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay enjoyed their time with the Calgary Flames, but said they aren't interested in nostalgia. They're more concerned with defeating the Flames at Pepsi Center on Saturday to remain in the hunt for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Avalanche (31-26-11) are six points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with 14 games remaining.

The Flames (38-25-5), who also have 14 games left, are in second place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks and tied with the Minnesota Wild, who have the first wild card because they have fewer wins.

"We know we have to get to a certain amount of points to give ourselves a chance," said Iginla, who spent his first 15-plus NHL seasons with the Flames. "It's more about the Avalanche and trying to win an important game."

Tanguay, who spent five seasons with Calgary in two different stints, said it's a little different playing against a former team.

"I truly enjoyed Calgary, it's a great hockey city with great fans," he said. "But we know the importance of this game. We're really focusing on playing a good game, a solid game. In order for us to get ourselves in the playoffs we have to beat teams above us, and this is certainly one of them."

The Avalanche have won four of their past five games and have gone 9-4-0 in their past 13 games. They went 1-1-0 in the first two games of their current three-game home stand, and begin a five-game road trip next week.

The Flames defeated the Avalanche 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 4. Goalie Karri Ramo made 26 saves in that game and is expected to start Saturday.

The Flames had an optional skate Saturday after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 at home on Friday. They've gone 5-0-1 in the past six games.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said remains close friends with Flames coach Bob Hartley, for whom he played in 2001 when Colorado won the Stanley Cup.

"Bob's been doing a good job," Roy said. "I'm sure he learned a lot from his time in Colorado, Atlanta and even in Switzerland. I think he's been coaching his team really well. They're buying into what he's doing. At the end of the day, it's a good recipe for success. They're resilient, they believe in themselves."

Here are the projected lineups:

FLAMES

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - David Jones

Mason Raymond - Drew Shore - Joe Colborne

Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Michael Ferland

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland

David Schlemko - Raphael Diaz

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Scratched: Josh Jooris, Emile Poirier, Corey Potter

Injured: Paul Byron (lower body), Mark Giordano (torn biceps tendon), Ladislav Smid (upper body)

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Alex Tanguay

John Mitchell - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Dennis Everberg

Jordan Caron - Freddie Hamilton - Daniel Briere

Jan Hejda - Zach Redmond

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Brad Stuart - Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: None

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (fractured kneecap), Joey Hishon (elbow, neck), Erik Johnson (knee), Jamie McGinn (back surgery), Nathan MacKinnon (broken foot), Borna Rendulic (broken leg), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

Status report: Johnson, who had knee surgery Jan. 26, has been skating almost daily and could play as early as March 23 when the Avalanche play in Calgary.

Who's hot: Backlund has three goals and four assists in a seven-game points streak. ... Hudler has six goals and six assists in a six-game streak. ... Monahan has six goals and three assists in a six-game streak. ... Gaudreau has four goals and five assists in a six-game streak. ... Landeskog has four goals and five assists in his past seven games. ... Iginla has four goals and two assists in his past seven games.

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