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Flames' Agostino returns home to face Devils

by David Kalan

FLAMES (33-38-7) at DEVILS (34-28-16)


Last 10: Calgary 6-4-0; New Jersey 5-2-3

Season series: This is the final game this season between the Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils. The Flames won the only previous meeting, 3-2, on Oct. 11 at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Big story: The Devils were at the far reaches of the Stanley Cup Playoff picture a few weeks ago, but after a late-season surge they're challenging for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flames have already been eliminated from the postseason race, but despite being a team that's playing out the string, Calgary hasn't thrown in the towel. The Flames are proving a tough mark in the final weeks of the season, winning three of their past five games. New Jersey could have a tough matchup on its hands as it looks to bolster its postseason hopes.

Team Scope:

Flames: Despite being second-to-last in the Western Conference, the Flames have still given multiple teams trouble. In its past 10 games, Calgary has wins against the San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, all teams likely headed for the postseason.

Perhaps more impressively, Calgary's improved play has come on its last major road trip of the 2013-14 season, which will wrap up on Monday in New Jersey. The Flames head to Prudential Center fresh off a two-game sweep in the Sunshine State after beating the Lightning and Florida Panthers in their past two games.

On Monday, rookie Kenny Agostino returns home, albeit for one night; the Flames left wing is a product of Flanders, N.J., about 40 minutes from Newark. Agostino made his NHL debut on March 21 after wrapping up his collegiate career at Yale University. He had 17 goals in 37 games for the Bulldogs this season and scored his first NHL goal on Friday at Florida.

"I might have to cut some people off and tell them just to buy some upper-deck tickets," Agostino told the Calgary Sun. "I'm lucky. That's a good problem to have. I've got a lot of great friends and family coming, especially a lot of Yale buddies driving from school on a Monday night. You can't ask for anything better than that."

Devils: The previous time the Devils faced the Flames, they were dealt a defeat that gave them their longest winless stretch to start a season since the franchise moved to New Jersey in 1982. Nearly six months later the Devils face the Flames still outside of playoff position, but playing far better hockey. New Jersey has not lost in regulation in its past seven games, going 4-0-3. The Devils continue to be plagued by their shootout issues; all three of their recent losses came in the shootout, in which they are 0-for-11 on the season. But the Devils have managed to pull within striking distance of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who currently hold the last wild-card spot in the East after appearing to be a longshot to reach the postseason two weeks ago.

Despite moving up the standings, however, the Devils' lineup is battling injuries and may be without several key players on Monday night. Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson all left New Jersey's win against the Washington Capitals on Friday with various injuries and none returned in time for the Devils' next game a day later. Despite the absences, the Devils still beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 with a strong effort in Raleigh.

"I've known the character in that room for the three years I've been here," coach Pete DeBoer said. "I knew there was no quit in that dressing room and these guys were going to play until they tell us we can't play anymore."

After hosting Calgary, the Devils head to Ottawa on Thursday for their final road game of the season.

Who's hot: Devils forward Dainius Zubrus has three goals in the past three games. ... Flames forward Mike Cammalleri has three goals and three assists in the past five games.

Injury report: Flames forward Mikael Backlund (hand injury) and defenseman Ladislav Smid (upper body) are all questionable, while forwards David Jones (shoulder injury) and Markus Granlund (shoulder injury) and defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon (shoulder injury) are out. … Forwards Henrique (groin injury), Elias (head injury) and Josefson (foot injury), as well as forward Ryane Clowe (head injury) and defenseman Bryce Salvador (groin injury) all remain out for the Devils.

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