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Desperate Flames pay rare visit to Long Island

by John Kreiser

FLAMES (37-27-9) at ISLANDERS (29-34-10)

Last 10
-- Calgary 7-3-0; New York 3-5-2

Season series -- The Flames start a three-game Eastern swing with their only game of the season against the Islanders. The Flames won the last meeting, 5-2 in Calgary on Jan. 8, 2009. Calgary hasn't been to Long Island in more than four years, since a 3-2 loss on Jan. 12, 2006.

Big story -- Talk about a must-win game. The Flames come to the Island four points behind Detroit in the race for the final playoff spot in the West. Their three-game swing through the East gets tougher after their visit to the Nassau Coliseum -- they visit Boston on Saturday and Washington on Sunday. Calgary is catching the Islanders after perhaps their worst performance of the season -- a 5-0 no-show effort against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Flames -- With eighth-place Detroit four points ahead of them and only nine games remaining, the Flames are running out of time -- and they know it.

"We have to find a way every night," center Craig Conroy said Wednesday, one day after a 3-1 home win over Anaheim. "We'd love to win 5-1 and score lots of goals. But if it is 1-0 or if we are down and have to come back and tie it up and win it, we have to do it. Other teams have been doing it. Now we have to find a way to do it."

Islanders -- If there were any lingering playoff hopes on Long Island, they died Wednesday night when the Islanders were embarrassed at the Garden by the archrival Rangers. The Rangers spent 60 minutes doing virtually anything they wanted, and the listless Islanders had no answers.

"You're not going to win hockey games coming out and playing like that," said goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who made 39 saves to keep the Rangers from hitting double figures. "It's a big rivalry, and it's actually playoff hopes on the line here. And to come out like that, it's unfortunate."

Who's hot -- Flames captain Jarome Iginla has a goal and three assists in his last three games. Rene Bourque has 3 goals, including a pair of game-winners, in Calgary's last four games. … With back-to-back shutout losses, the Isles are ice-cold.

Injury report -- Calgary is down three forwards -- Curtis Glencross (knee), Daymond Langkow (neck) Long Island native Christopher Higgins (foot). … The Isles' tissue paper-thin defense took another hit Wednesday when Dustin Kohn left with a head injury and didn't return. Goaltender Rick DiPietro hasn't played since prior to the Olympic break due to a knee injury, and he's been unable to practice.

Stat pack -- Don't look for a lot of goals in the third period. Calgary has scored only 51 times during the final period, tied for 28th with Boston. The only team to score fewer third period goals? The Isles, with only 40 -- exactly half the amount they've allowed.

Puck drop
-- This is a game the Flames have to win to have any realistic hope of catching Detroit. Isles coach Scott Gordon has to get his team to regroup after Wednesday's embarrassment; with the team now out of the playoff chase, the Islanders are playing for pride and next season's jobs.

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