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Avs, Flames need win to stay alive in playoff race

by Deborah Francisco

AVALANCHE (40-33-6) at FLAMES (35-28-15)


Last 10: Colorado 5-3-2; Calgary 4-3-3

Season Series: This is the finale of the six-game season series between the Northwest Division rivals. The Flames have dominated the series so far, going 4-0-1 in the first five. Colorado managed to win 2-1 in overtime in their last meeting 10 days ago at the Pepsi Center. David Jones batted in the overtime winning goal after Colorado's Paul Stastny and Calgary's Matt Stajan tallied in regulation.

Big Story: This is the end of the line for one of these squads. Both teams are just outside the top eight in the Western Conference playoff scramble; the winner will have a slim chance but the loser can likely start planning for summer vacation.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: It's the end of the road for the Avalanche -- this is their final road game of the regular season. They are hoping to shake off a 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday. Colorado is 0-3-1 in its last four games, has just two games remaining in the regular season after Friday and is two points out of eighth place. The Avs need to win out and get need help from other teams to make the playoffs.

"Anything can happen," defenseman Shane O'Brien said after the loss in Vancouver, a game in which the Avs outshot the Canucks 43-22. "Teams that have games in hand, they could still lose. We're going to fight to the bitter end until we're mathematically done. But this (loss) definitely stings a bit."

Flames: Calgary is 1-2-2 in its last five games, including a disheartening 3-0 home loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday. However, the Flames could potentially win out their remaining four games for a total of 93 points, which might be enough to get them into the postseason with some help from other teams.

"It's not the position you want to put yourself in obviously, but it's what we've done to ourselves and we don't have anyone to blame but ourselves," defenseman Chris Butler said. "We need some help, but at the same time if we don't take care of our own games we don't have a shot."

"Unless we go out and run the table, we're not going to have a chance," forward Alex Tanguay said. "That's certainly not going to be easy but we have to give it our best shot."

Who's Hot: Rookie Gabriel Landeskog continues to turn heads with a team-high 22 goals, second among NHL rookies.

Injury Report: The Avs are as healthy as a team can be at this time of the season. The Flames list defensemen Derek Smith (upper body) and TJ Brodie (upper body) as day-to-day while defenseman Cory Sarich (upper body) and center Mikael Backlund (shoulder) are out.

Stat Pack: The Avalanche are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second season in a row which hasn't happened since they missed the postseason in five straight seasons from 1987-88 to 1991-92 when they were still the Quebec Nordiques.

Puck Drop: With their playoff hopes on the line, there's probably no one the Flames would rather see than the Avs, a team they've beaten in 11 of their last 13 meetings.

"We've failed to come up with wins at key times and all we can do is look ahead to the Colorado game," forward Lee Stempniak said. "You have to cling to any glimmer of hope right now. We can control what we can control and try to pick up as many points as we can. Hopefully, we can get some help from some other teams."

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