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Coyotes continue postseason chase against Flames

by Brian Hunter

COYOTES (18-16-6) at FLAMES (14-21-4)


Last 10: Phoenix 5-3-2; Calgary 3-7-0

Season series: Third and final meeting of the regular season. The Phoenix Coyotes and Calgary Flames have split their two matchups, the home team victorious in each. Mike Smith turned in a 30-save performance in a 4-0 shutout for the Coyotes on Feb. 18, while Curtis Glencross scored with one minute remaining in a come-from-behind 5-4 win for the Flames six days later.

Big story: Phoenix currently holds sole possession of ninth place in the pack of teams sitting below the cutoff line in the Western Conference, and with Mike Smith healthy again and looking a lot like the guy who carried the Coyotes through the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, the teams above them may be starting to sweat a little.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Facing off against a fellow bottom-seven team that still has postseason aspirations, Phoenix rode Smith's hot goaltending and a pair of second-period tallies to a 3-1 win in Edmonton on Wednesday. Boyd Gordon scored 37 seconds into the middle period to open the offense and Antoine Vermette doubled the lead at the nine-minute mark. Smith carried a shutout into the third, and while Nail Yakupov ended those hopes and brought the Oilers closer, the Coyotes shut the door with a David Moss power-play goal in the closing seconds.

"This was a do-or-die game for either team," coach Dave Tippett said. "We got the points and we're still in the race."

Flames: A five-minute stretch late in the third period Wednesday was enough to sink Calgary after it played more than 50 minutes of solid hockey against its Northwest Division rival Vancouver. Glencross opened the scoring in the latter stages of the first, and though the Canucks drew even 64 seconds later the Flames kept peppering Roberto Luongo with shots as the teams stayed tied past the midway point of the third. That's when the Canucks erupted for three goals in a span of 4:50 to deal the Flames a 4-1 defeat.

"A couple breakdowns -- a rebound goal, a power-play goal," Maxwell Reinhart, who picked up an assist for his first NHL point, told the Calgary Herald. "I haven't been here very long, but I thought we threw a lot of pucks at net and got traffic there. Looking at the shot clock, we got a lot more shots than them. I mean, that's just how hockey goes sometimes."

Who's hot: Smith has stopped 93 of 95 shots (.979 save percentage) over three games since returning for the Coyotes. Gordon and Moss each had a goal and an assist on Wednesday.

Injury report: Phoenix forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) has missed the past eight games. … Calgary has been playing without defenseman Derek Smith (lower body) and forwards Paul Byron (hand), Brian McGrattan (shoulder), Jiri Hudler (upper body) and Matt Stajan (upper body).

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