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Desperate Coyotes return home to host Flames

by Sean McCullen

FLAMES (27-33-7) at COYOTES (31-25-11)


Last 10: Calgary 5-5-0; Phoenix 4-5-1

Season series: The Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes will play for the fifth and final time. The Pacific Division rivals have split the first four games, with each team winning twice on home ice.

Big story: The Coyotes are two points behind the Dallas Stars for the second wild-card spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference. They finished a four-game East Coast road trip with a 2-2-0 record.

"Average," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said about his team's trip, which ended with a loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday. "For where we are right now, yeah. Obviously, we need more points than we got, and .500 is not what we're looking for. That being said, we've got to go home and regroup. One stop at home and playing, then we're on the road again."

The Coyotes will play eight home games and seven road games to wrap up the regular season. They will visit the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night before returning to Arena to host the Florida Panthers on Thursday and the Bruins next Saturday.

Team Scope:

Flames: Calgary aided Phoenix's playoff push when it rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Stars 4-3 in a shootout Friday night. The Flames trailed 3-1 with less than eight minutes left in regulation, but got third-period goals from Paul Byron and Mike Cammalleri to send the game to overtime. Sean Monahan and Corban Knight scored for the Flames in the shootout, and Joey MacDonald denied three of four Stars shooters.

Calgary has won four of its past six games.

MacDonald, whom the Flames recalled from Abbotsford of the American Hockey League on March 5 after trading Reto Berra to the Colorado Avalanche, made several big saves in the third period to allow for the comeback.

"It's my job. When you're down by two, you don't want to give up that third one because it's going to kill us. I was just trying to make the key saves at the right time and I think I did that," said MacDonald, who finished with 22 saves to earn his first NHL win since Oct. 11. "The guys went down the other way and buried them when they had to."

Flames center Matt Stajan remains out on a leave of absence following the death of his newborn son.

Coyotes: Phoenix lost 2-1 in Boston on Thursday after taking two games against Florida and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Coyotes were 0-for-5 on the power play against the Bruins and 2-for-14 (14.3 percent) on the trip.

The struggles were surprising given the Coyotes' man-advantage unit has been a good one this season. Phoenix is eighth in the NHL on the power play at 20.5 percent, including 18.3 percent in road games.

"We just didn't execute very well, and our power play got outworked, it's as simple as that," Tippett said after the Boston game. "Third period, the last one in the third, we actually started executing a little bit and moving; we had some chances. But if you're not willing to work and outwork penalty-killers and use the advantage you have, you're not successful very often."

Who's hot: Cammalleri has four goals in the past three games for the Flames. Defenseman Mark Giordano is on a three-game point streak. He has a goal and three assists during that span. … Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata has six points (four goals) his past five games.

Injury report: Calgary goalie Karri Ramo (knee) is on injured reserve. Forwards Markus Granlund (shoulder), Jiri Hudler (lower body) and defenseman Dennis Wideman (upper body) are day-to-day. Right wing David Jones (shoulder) is out until late March or early April. … Phoenix forwards Martin Erat (upper body) and Martin Hanzal (lower body) and defenseman David Schlemko (lower body) are day-to-day. Erat missed the Boston game. Schlemko has been out since March 6. Hanzal, who has not played since March 2, is skating again and appears close to returning.

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