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Flames back home, resume playoff chase vs. Coyotes

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com

COYOTES (24-47-8) at FLAMES (43-29-7)

TV: SNW

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames have a date with the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, the team they’re currently deadlocked with at 93 points in the race for third place in the Pacific Division.

Saturday will bring the Winnipeg Jets in Calgary’s season finale, a team that sits one point up on the Flames and currently in possession of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

But before either of those games can cross Calgary’s mind, the Flames focus lies on the Arizona Coyotes at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; SNW).

"Obviously we need to win tonight,” Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman said. “Tonight is a big game, we need these two points and we better not be looking ahead; that's for sure. This is still a team that can play and they've got some skill over there so we've got to be ready to go.

"We put ourselves in a good spot. I think if you told us at the start of the year it would come down to the last three games of the season we would take it. Tonight is a big game and to get a win tonight we've got to play well against these guys and we'll see what happens moving forward."

The Coyotes have three wins in their past 10 games (3-9-1) and have just one regulation victory since Feb. 3, coming off a 5-3 win against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

Overall, Arizona is 5-21-2 in its past 27 games and have slumped to last place in the West and 29th overall, two points up on the Buffalo Sabres for last in the overall standings.

At this stage of the season, though, Calgary isn’t willing to take its opponent lightly.

"They're very good professionals over there,” said defenseman David Schlemko, who spent parts of seven seasons, including starting this year, with Arizona. “They're not throwing in the towel and you know they're going to play hard. There's a lot of young guys playing for jobs over there so it's a dangerous game for us. We've got to make sure we're at our best and we get these two points."

For Arizona, the incentive is clear.

“[Players] keep themselves motivated by trying to find jobs next year,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “It’s as simple as that. Look at our roster. There’s a lot of players playing for jobs, playing to become full-time NHL players, trying to prove themselves. That’s a big part of it.”

A little part, too, is spoiling those that still have a shot at the postseason.

“The players, they want to play well,” Tippett said. “It’s obvious that we’re not going to have much fun so maybe they get jealous of other people having fun so they’re going to try to have fun, too.”

The Flames need to avoid such a hiccup.

"We're thinking that we probably have to win out, we haven't been getting much help lately,” Schlemko said. “It's got to be the same mindset -- one game at a time and try to pick up those two points.

"We just got to be focused. We've got to have the same mindset that we've had every game. Nothing changes now and obviously those are two huge games coming up but this one means just as much and we need the two points."

Here are the projected lineups:

COYOTES

Tobias Rieder - Mark Arcobello - Shane Doan

Martin Erat - Sam Gagner - David Moss

Craig Cunningham - Kyle Chipchura - Jordan Szwarz

Tye McGinn - Joe Vitale - B.J. Crombeen

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone

Klas Dahlbeck - Andrew Campbell

John Moore - Connor Murphy

Mike Smith

Louis Domingue

Scratched: None

Injured: Mikkel Boedker (upper body), Martin Hanzal (upper body), Lauri Korpikoski (upper body)

FLAMES

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Mason Raymond - Mikael Backlund - Joe Colborne

Michael Ferland - Markus Granlund - Josh Jooris

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland

David Schlemko - Corey Potter

Jonas Hiller

Brad Thiessen

Scratched: Tyler Wotherspoon, Brandon Bollig, Drew Shore, Sam Bennett

Injured: Ladislav Smid (upper body), Paul Byron (lower body), Mark Giordano (torn biceps tendon), Raphael Diaz (lower body), Karri Ramo (lower body)

Status report: Smith is expected to start in goal for Arizona. … After serving as a healthy scratch for 15 straight games, Potter will be in the lineup for the second game in a row.

Who’s hot: Arcobello has a goal and two assists over a two game point-scoring streak and eight points in his past six games overall. With two goals Saturday against the San Jose Sharks, Ekman-Larsson tied an Arizona franchise record for defensemen at 23. … Monahan has a goal and three assists over a four-game point-scoring streak and has nine points in his past nine games.

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