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Flames-Penguins Preview @NHLdotcom

The Pittsburgh Penguins may have squandered their chance for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a loss in their most recent game.

The Calgary Flames, meanwhile, may have taken a big step toward beginning the postseason at home.

On Wednesday night, the Penguins will try to bounce back from their first regulation loss in a month as they host the Northwest Division-leading Flames, who will try to build off the momentum of their win over the defending Stanley Cup champions with a victory over last season's other finalist.

Pittsburgh (39-27-8) was tied with Philadelphia for fourth place in the Eastern Conference when the Flyers visited Mellon Arena on Sunday. The Penguins had gone 10-0-2 in their previous 12 games to get into that position, but Philadelphia handed them a 3-1 defeat.

The Flyers also beat Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey on Monday, putting them four points up on Pittsburgh with two games in hand.

"The win would have been nice," Sidney Crosby told the Penguins' official Web site after extending his point streak to 13 games with an assist. "We played hard and they had some good bounces and goals but I thought we did a good job of carrying the play for most of the game. ... They're a good team and we'll just move on."

Pittsburgh's concern now is the teams that began the week behind it in the standings. Carolina won Monday to leapfrog the Penguins into fifth place, and the New York Rangers were victorious Tuesday to jump into a sixth-place tie with interim coach Dan Bylsma's club.

"We have to find ways to get our chances, bury our chances, and you have to stay on your game plan for 60 minutes," Bylsma said. "Hopefully that tilts it in your favor."

Some porous defense caused the Flames (42-24-6) to drop four of five from March 6-14, but they've shored things up after allowing 27 goals in the final five games of a seven-game trip.

Calgary's defense has been solid upon its return, allowing seven goals in winning two of three. It was the offense that stepped up Monday, though, as Michael Cammalleri had a goal and two assists in the Flames' 5-3 victory over Detroit, their second against the Red Wings in the past 12 days.

Calgary has a three-point lead in the Northwest over Vancouver. The Flames and Canucks will meet for the final time in the regular season on April 7.

"Now it's crunch time. We want to just keep winning our games and let these games dwindle down and try to win the division," said Flames center Craig Conroy, who had a goal and an assist. "Nobody's been hotter than Vancouver and we know that but we felt this was a must game."

Calgary allows 3.04 goals per game to rank among the worst defensive clubs in the league, and it's been even worse on the road. The Flames give up an average of 3.34 goals away from home, including a dreadful 5.40 in their last five games.

That means Miikka Kiprusoff may be hard-pressed to earn his league-leading and career-high 43rd win on Wednesday against the offensive-minded Penguins, who failed to score at least three goals for the first time in 12 games on Sunday.

Crosby has seven goals and 16 assists during his points streak and Evgeni Malkin, the league's leading scorer with 105 points, has three goals and five assists in his past three games.

Calgary hasn't visited Mellon Arena since a 3-2 win on Dec. 3, 2005 when Crosby was a rookie.

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