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Flames and Stars continues playoff push

by Tal Pinchevsky
FLAMES (35-24-9) at STARS (36-323-7)

TV - SNET-West (HD), FS-Southwest+ (HD)

Last 10 -- Calgary 7-2-1; Dallas 5-4-0

Season series -- This is the fourth and final meeting this season between these Western Conference rivals. Calgary has won the previous three matchups, most recently a 4-2 win on Feb. 16 in which two third-period goals scored 2:12 apart, including a short-hander from Steve Staios, gave the Flames the victory.

Big story - In the cluttered Western Conference playoff race, these two teams have taken divergent paths towards the playoffs since the Christmas holidays. The Flames have invited all kinds of bad puns by being one of the League's hottest teams, going 20-6-6 since the holiday break, as Dallas has been up and down while battling injuries.

While Calgary has gone from a team in turmoil to a playoff contender, Dallas has taken a slight dip in the standings. After leading the Pacific Division for most of the season's first half, the Stars were overtaken by San Jose for the division lead after a 1-8-1 slide, but have climbed back into the top eight in the West after dropping as low as 11th.

Team Scope:

Flames -
With four wins in their last five games, Calgary's scorching play has continued into the season's home stretch. On Sunday against Nashville, another team battling neck-and-neck for a playoff spot, Curtis Glencross scored the winner midway through the third period, giving Calgary a big 3-2 win.

While Glencross scored the winner, the game was particularly memorable for Jarome Iginla's penalty-shot goal in the second period. The goal gave Iginla 30 goals for the 10th consecutive season, making him just the 10th NHL player to achieve the feat.

"I never dreamt it would be on a penalty shot," Iginla said. "I've had a few of them in front of the fans here at home and I haven't put any penalty shots in at home until that, so that was a treat for me."

Stars - Despite the absence of star center Brad Richards, who is out with a concussion, the Stars have rebounded from their slide by going 5-0-1 in their last six games. Each of those wins pitted the Stars against a team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, including division leaders San Jose and Detroit.

Against the Kings on Monday, Jamie Benn's shorthanded goal in the third period tied the game 3-3, and Brenden Morrow scored the winner 38 seconds into overtime. The OT winner gave Morrow 26 goals for the season, his highest total since scoring a career-high 32 in the 2007-08 season. The win also gave Dallas a League-high nine victories this season when trailing after two periods.

"This group's been good about (coming back) all year," Morrow said. "Last year and in year's past that may have been something that we weren't mentally tough enough to overcome."

The Stars have a chance to help themseles in the next couple of weeks -- this is the opener of a seven-game homestand.

Who's hot - Iginla has 5 goals during his current four-game point streak. Glencross and Olli Jokinen both have 4 points in their last two games. … For Dallas, Benn has goals in four consecutive games while Mike Ribeiro has 9 points in his last nine games.

Injury report - For the Flames, Brendan Morrison is out for up to three weeks with a knee injury while Daymond Langkow (neck), Raitis Ivanans (concussion), and Adam Pardy (shoulder) are all on IR. … Richards remains out for the Stars while defenseman Nicklas Grossman is day-to-day with a hip-pointer.

Stat pack - With one more shorthanded goal, Morrow will have nine for his career, tying Jere Lehtinen for second on Dallas' all-time list. He'll still have a ways to go to catch up with franchise leader Mike Modano, who scored 29 shorties during his time with the Stars.

Puck drop - If Calgary tops Dallas, the Flames will sweep the season series against the Stars for the first time since the 1991-92 season, when the franchise was still known as the Minnesota North Stars.

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