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Preview: Flames at Sharks

Calgary can clinch first wild card from West; San Jose needs help to climb to second in Pacific

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

FLAMES (45-32-4) at SHARKS (45-29-7)

10:00 p.m. ET; FS-W, NHLN, NBCS CA+, NHL.TV


Flames team scope

The Calgary Flames are tied with the Nashville Predators for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Flames can clinch the first wild card if they defeat the San Jose Sharks in any fashion or if they get one point against San Jose and the Predators lose to the Winnipeg Jets in any fashion or if the Predators lose to the Jets in regulation. The Flames and Predators each have one game remaining, but Calgary has 41 regulation and overtime wins to 39 for Nashville, and owns the tiebreaker. Defensemen Mark Giordano and Deryk Engelland and center Mikael Backlund will be out of the lineup for the first time this season to rest for the playoffs. Forward Kris Versteeg will be scratched for the first time since Dec. 10. Rookie defenseman Rasmus Andersson will make his NHL debut, and defenseman Michael Stone will return to the lineup after being scratched against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. Forwards Freddie Hamilton and Curtis Lazar will replace Versteeg and Backlund. Coach Glen Gulutzan said he expects the Flames to keep pushing hard in their final game before the playoffs. "You just talk about the light switch," Gulutzan said. "You can't turn off the light. You got to keep things going. You can't mentally drop at all because it's just going to put stress on somebody else."


Sharks team scope

The Sharks are in third place in the Pacific Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oilers and four behind the Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks have one game remaining and the Oilers have two, each against the Vancouver Canucks. The Sharks have 43 regulation and overtime wins to 41 for Edmonton. San Jose can finish second in the division if they defeat Calgary and Edmonton loses twice to Vancouver in regulation. Injured centers Joe Thornton (left knee) and Logan Couture (mouth) will remain out of the lineup and are day to day, coach Peter DeBoer said. Goaltender Aaron Dell will make his 17th start of the season after backing up Martin Jones the past seven games. Defenseman Justin Braun stayed on the ice late at practice and will likely be scratched for the first time this season, with Dylan DeMelo taking his place. The Sharks recalled forwards Timo Meier and Danny O'Regan and defenseman Tim Heed from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League. Heed skated late and will likely be scratched. Meier and O'Regan could be in the lineup. "I don't know if we're going to rest anyone," DeBoer said. "If we sit anybody it won't be a rest. Everyone's dealing with a little something. We just got some bodies here. We'll make some decisions at game time." Dell is 0-1-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in two games against the Flames this season.


Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Micheal Ferland

Matthew Tkachuk -- Curtis Lazar -- Michael Frolik

Freddie Hamilton -- Sam Bennett -- Alex Chiasson

Lance Bouma -- Matt Stajon -- Troy Brouwer

Matt Bartkowski -- Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie -- Michael Stone

Rasmus Andersson -- Dennis Wideman

Brian Elliott

David Rittich

Scratched: Mikael Backlund, Kris Versteeg, Mark Giordano, Deryk Engelland

Injured: Chad Johnson (lower body)


Sharks projected lineup

Melker Karlsson -- Joe Pavelski -- Kevin Labanc

Joonas Donskoi -- Patrick Marleau -- Joel Ward

Jannik Hansen -- Tomas Hertl -- Mikkel Boedker

Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Marcus Sorensen

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- David Schlemko

Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo

Aaron Dell

Martin Jones

Scratched: Justin Braun, Tim Heed, Danny O'Regan, Michael Haley

Injured: Logan Couture (mouth), Joe Thornton (left knee)


Status report

Elliott will start for the Flames and Rittich, who was recalled from Stockton of the AHL, will back him up. Calgary sent goaltender Jon Gillies back to the Heat, two days after he made 27 saves in his NHL debut, a 4-1 win against the Kings. ... If O'Regan plays, he'd likely center the fourth line with Tierney moving up.


Who's hot

Gaudreau has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his past 10 games. ... Monahan has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games. ... Hansen has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past six games.

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