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Preview: Avalanche at Flames

Calgary win would keep wild-card lead on Blues; Colorado looking to end five-game losing streak

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

AVALANCHE (20-51-3) at FLAMES (42-29-4)

9 p.m. ET; SNW, ALT, NHL.TV


Avalanche team scope

The Colorado Avalanche will finish a two-game road trip at the Calgary Flames having lost five games in a row (0-5-0). They are 1-17-1 in their past 19 road games, and have been outscored 69-23. Goaltender Calvin Pickard could make his second straight start after he had 25 saves in a 4-1 loss at the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Pickard is 13-26-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in 43 games. "It's been a tough season for us … but it's been a great learning experience for me, and I wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything," Pickard told the Denver Post on Saturday. "I've had a lot of good games and gone through some rough patches, but I know these are all things that will help me going forward." Bednar has been impressed by how Pickard, 24, has developed this season. "This is the most [NHL] games he's ever played," he said. "He will double his totals from previous years. He's still a young guy but he's getting this opportunity and it's only going to help him moving forward. For his growth, this is a good thing for him. Even though he's gone through some tough times in the year … he's worked through it."


Flames team scope

The Calgary Flames are two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference but have played one more game than the Blues. So a Blues win against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday and a Flames loss in regulation would see the teams switch spots in the wild-card race. The Flames also are three points behind the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers for second in the Pacific Division, and trail the Anaheim Ducks by five points for first place. "I check the standings every day and check where we're at," forward Mikael Backlund said. "It's a tight race. You never know who you're going to play if we make it. First of all we have to clinch, of course, and things will take care of themselves. But I check the standings every day." The Blues play Arizona Coyotes on Monday; none of the teams ahead of them in the Pacific play. "Teams are winning around us," defenseman Mark Giordano said. "We're trying to stay with the pack. There's a bunch of teams a few points ahead of us. We haven't clinched playoffs or anything like that. There's going to be a lot of urgency." The Flames are 13-3-0 in their past 16 games. "We've put ourselves in a really good spot," Backlund said. "It's a great feeling."


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Matt Duchene -- Matt Nieto

Sven Andrighetto -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Rene Bourque -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau

Mikhail Grigorenko -- J.T. Compher -- Joe Colborne

Erik Johnson -- Mark Barberio

Fedor Tyutin -- Tyson Barrie

Anton Lindholm -- Francois Beauchemin

Calvin Pickard

Jeremy Smith

Scratched: John Mitchell, Cody Goloubef, Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: None


Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Micheal Ferland

Matthew Tkachuk -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Kris Versteeg -- Matt Stajan -- Troy Brouwer

Lance Bouma -- Sam Bennett -- Alex Chiasson

Mark Giordano -- Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie -- Michael Stone

Matt Bartkowski -- Deryk Engelland

Brian Elliott

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Curtis Lazar, Freddie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman

Injured: None


Status report

The Avalanche had an optional skate Monday. … Elliott will start for the 12th time in the past 14 games. In his past 11 games he's 10-1-0 with a 1.60 GAA, .948 save percentage and two shutouts.


Who's hot

Andrighetto has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past five games. … Gaudreau has seven points (one goal, six assists) during a four-game point streak, and has 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) in his past 16 games. Monahan has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past four games, and 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past 11 games.

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