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Calgary Flames vs. Dallas Stars

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GAME: Calgary Flames (33-25-5-3) at Dallas Stars (33-22-11-0).

TIME: Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Now that the Dallas Stars are closing in on a playoff berth, they can turn their attention toward another division title.

Dallas tries to match a franchise-record, 13-game home unbeaten streak when the Calgary Flames continue a four-game road trip at American Airlines Center.

The Stars have been one of the league's hottest teams over the past six weeks, going 15-4-3-0 to move into fifth place in the Western Conference. Despite their strong play, the Stars are still six points behind San Jose for the Pacific Division lead.

Dallas, which has won a division title in six of the past seven seasons, has three games remaining against the Sharks.

Bill Guerin recorded his sixth career hat trick and Ron Tugnutt stopped 15 shots in a rare start Wednesday, leading the Stars to a 4-2 victory over Columbus.

Jason Arnott assisted on all three of Guerin's goals, helping Dallas extend its unbeaten streak to seven (6-0-1).

"We're starting to hit our stride a little bit," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "We're in a position where we expect to win every night and we're coming along as a team. Hopefully you peak going into the playoffs and if we do that, I think we will be a very dangerous team."

The Stars, in the midst of a club-record eight-game homestand, are 9-0-3 at American Airlines Center since a 4-2 loss to Colorado on Jan. 10.

The 12-game home unbeaten streak is a Dallas Stars' record, but is one shy of the franchise record. The Minnesota North Stars went 13 straight home games without a loss three times - most recently in 1990-91.

In the first six games of this homestand, the Stars have outscored opponents 22-9, averaging 3.66 goals. They are scoring 2.90 goals per game during the 15-4-3-0 stretch after averaging 1.98 in their first 44 contests.

The line of Guerin, Arnott and Brenden Morrow has 29 points in the last seven games, with Guerin contributing six goals and six assists.

Calgary, hoping to end a seven-year playoff drought, could move within one point of Dallas for fifth in the West with a victory Friday.

After opening this trip with a 4-2 win over St. Louis on Tuesday, the Flames continued their inconsistent play with a 2-1 loss to Detroit on Wednesday.

Jarome Iginla scored for Calgary, which has traded wins and losses in its last six games.

"We did a lot of good things out there, but the opportunities we had we didn't finish them," Calgary's Martin Gelinas said. "When we get those chances, we've got to finish as a team and score the big goals."

Iginla is doing his best to get the Flames into the postseason. The Calgary captain has four goals in his last three games and 16 in his past 18 contests.

STANDINGS: Flames - 74 points, 3rd place, 9 PB, Northwest Division. Stars - 77 points, 2nd place, 6 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 34 goals and 60 points; Craig Conroy, 28 assists; Krzysztof Oliwa, 192 PIM. Stars - Guerin, 30 goals and 54 points; Sergei Zubov, 32 assists; Steve Ott, 123 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 3): Flames - Power play: 15.4 percent (45 for 293), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.9 percent (229 for 273), 19th. Stars - Power play: 17.2 percent (45 for 262), 9th. Penalty killing: 85.7 percent (209 for 244), 4th.

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Miikka Kiprusoff (17-6-2, 2 SO, 1.55 GAA); Roman Turek (4-10-0, 1, 2.68). Stars - Marty Turco (30-19-11, 6, 2.05); Tugnutt (2-3-0, 2.43).

SEASON SERIES: Stars, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 17; Stars, 3-2. At Calgary, Alberta, Jere Lehtinen and Arnott scored third-period goals to rally Dallas.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 16-13-1-2 on the road; Stars - 21-6-7-0 at home.


Associated Press
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