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Flames desperately need win over Coyotes

by John Kreiser

COYOTES (47-23-6) at FLAMES (38-29-9)

Last 10 -- Phoenix 7-2-1; Calgary 5-5-0

Season series -- It's the fourth and final game of a season series that has seen the home team win three times, each by one goal. Calgary won 2-1 at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Nov. 25, while the Coyotes won 2-1 at Arena on Dec. 3 and 3-2 in a shootout on Jan. 28.

Big story -- The Flames may have saved their season on Sunday with a 5-3 victory at Washington in which they scored four unanswered goals in the first period and held off the NHL's top team. But the big win came on the heels of bad losses at Long Island and Boston that have left Calgary with almost no wiggle room in their quest to catch Colorado for the last playoff berth in the West. They may be getting a break by catching the Coyotes on the second half of a back-to-back -- Phoenix lost 4-1 at Vancouver on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Coyotes -- The Coyotes know they'll be in the playoffs for the first time in eight years, and they've reached 100 points for the first time in franchise history. But barring a collapse by the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks, the Coyotes appear to be locked into fourth place in the West.

Don't be surprised if Jason LaBarbera starts against the Flames. Ilya Bryzgalov has seen a lot of minutes this season and wasn't at his best in the loss at Vancouver.

Flames -- After spending two days scoreboard-watching, the Flames will be glad to get back onto the ice and try to do something about their place in the standings.

"At this point, with six games left, we know what we have to do but at the same time, you do some scoreboard watching on the nights you don't play," defenseman Mark Giordano told the team's Web site.

"To be honest, it's going to take a little bit of help. But if we take care of our business we can really put some pressure on those two teams and hopefully catch them."

Who's hot -- Lee Stempniak didn't score Tuesday, but he has 12 goals in 13 games since being acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline. Fellow newcomer Wojtek Wolski -- two goals and three assists in his last two games, and 12 points in 12 games since coming over from the Avalanche. … Rene Bourque is coming off a three-point game at Washington and is 2-2-4 in his last four games. Niklas Hagman has points in four of his last five games.

Injury report -- Phoenix forward Scottie Upshall (knee) and defenseman Kurt Sauer (head) are on injured reserve. Center Robert Lang (lower body) hasn't played since March 7. … The Flames have been without forwards Daymond Langkow (neck), Curtis Glencross (knee) and Christopher Higgins (foot). Langkow is out indefinitely; the other two are listed as day-to-day.

Stat pack -- Flames captain Jarome Iginla picked the wrong time to go into a goal-scoring slump. He hasn't scored since March 19 and has just that one goal in his last 10 games. Iginla has just 32 goals this season; he hasn't had less than 35 in a full season since getting 31 in 2000-01.

Puck drop -- The Flames visit Colorado on Friday, so they have to resist the temptation to look past the Coyotes to their showdown with the Avs.

"We want to get Phoenix going and we want to win that one and put ourselves in a great spot to do exactly what you talked about: go into Colorado and have an opportunity to tie them," center Craig Conroy said Tuesday. "That's all we can ask for. But it starts with Phoenix."

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