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Flames, Avalanche fight to stay in playoff mix

by Mike Battaglino

FLAMES (7-7-4) at AVALANCHE (7-8-3)


Last 10: Calgary 4-4-2; Colorado 3-4-3

Season series: This is the second of four meetings. The Colorado Avalanche won the first, 6-3, scoring three third-period goals at home on Jan. 31.

Big story: Calgary is in 12th place, Colorado is in 14th in the Western Conference, but each remains within four points of eighth. Neither has been able to win more than two games in a row; the Avalanche are on their third three-game losing streak this season.

Team scope:

Flames: After failing to score on a five-minute and a four-minute power play in Tuesday's 2-1 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild, going 1-for-7 overall, Calgary held a special teams meeting at practice Wednesday.

"I think it was a combination of things," defenseman Dennis Wideman told the team's website. "Not supporting each other enough, leaving guys alone when they have the puck and we're not able to support them quick enough, not making quick decisions.

"And we started to panic as the power plays went on and we were like, 'Oh my God, we have to score,' and we tried to force it too much and everything fell apart."

The Flames' power play is 6-for-29 on the road, but the Avalanche have killed 33 of 35 chances at home.

Bob Hartley makes his first visit as Calgary coach to Colorado, where he coached the Avalanche to the 2001 Stanley Cup. Forward Alex Tanguay was a member of that team; he has six points in his past six games as a visitor.

Avalanche: This is the only home game for Colorado in a seven-game stretch. The Avalanche are 5-2-1 this season at Pepsi Center.

"I think we've been playing well at home and we've got to keep that going," forward Patrick Bordeleau said on the team's website. "I think that the start means a lot; if you have a good start in a game [then] you have a good game, if you have a bad start, it's hard to come back.

"I think we're going to try to do that tomorrow, the first five minutes be hard on the puck."

Five of their past eight games have gone to overtime or a shootout, with the Avalanche winning two. Colorado lost to the San Jose Sharks, 3-2, in a shootout Tuesday.

"We're getting points, and we're getting those games into overtime and giving ourselves a chance to win there," captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "As to where, maybe the start of the year, or even last year, we would lose games close toward the end and just lose at least the one point. I think that's a step forward."

Who's hot: Tanguay has four points in his past six games. Forward Jarome Iginla had two goals, to give him three this season, Sunday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has three assists in his past three games. … Colorado forward Matt Duchene had 10 points in the first seven games of February before going scoreless in three then getting injured.

Injury report: Flames forward Matt Stajan (upper body) could be able to play after taking a hard hit from Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild in Monday's game. Forwards Akim Aliu (knee) and Mikael Backlund (knee) are out. ... According to the Denver Post, Duchene (groin) did not take part in an optional practice Wednesday but has not been ruled out of this game. Defenseman Erik Johnson skated Wednesday, his first on-ice activity since suffering a concussion Feb. 11. Defenseman Ryan Wilson (ankle) has not resumed skating.

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