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Flames' playoff hopes dealt blow by Wild

by Brian Hunter
The Minnesota Wild may not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they did their best on Sunday to see that the Calgary Flames don't get there, either.

Chuck Kobasew scored twice and Josh Harding stopped 29 shots in his seventh straight start, leading the Wild to a 4-3 win on Sunday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center.

Andrew Brunette and Guillaume Latendresse also scored as Minnesota closed to within seven points of eighth-place Detroit in the Western Conference standings.

"We had some good chances. We were getting pucks on net early. We needed more shots and I thought we did that early on and we were able to get a couple," said Kobasew, who has four goals in as many games.

Steve Staios, Ian White and Eric Nystrom had the goals for Calgary, which remained in ninth by two points. The Red Wings also have a game in hand on the Flames, which will take place Monday when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins.

The game was delayed by more than 10 minutes in the second period by a scary incident when a White shot from the point hit his teammate, Daymond Langkow, in the back of the neck. Langkow immediately crumpled to the ice and was eventually taken off on a stretcher.

After being evaluated at an area hospital, the Flames reported the veteran forward had feeling in all of his extremities. He was undergoing X-rays and further tests.

"We were definitely a little bit rattled," Staios said. "After that, you've got to get yourself back focused on the game, but there's definitely a time when you're afraid for him, and it becomes a difficult situation to deal with."

Moments after play resumed, White scored to bring the Flames within 3-2 at the 5:52 mark.

"Whenever somebody goes down with an injury and you deal like that, you really lose focus of the game, because your concern is for the player," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "That sapped a lot of the energy out of us, out of the building. They scored right away, which brought some life back."

Kobasew restored the two-goal lead with 2:37 left in the period, beating Miikka Kiprusoff from the left circle on a shot low to his glove side. Kiprusoff had relieved starter Vesa Toskala after Kobasew's first goal at 3:05 of the second.

"Toskala played very well here last time," Kobasew said, referring to a 5-2 Minnesota win on March 7. "We knew we wanted to test him early, keep shooting the puck … and getting to see Kipper at the end, I guess that means we're doing something right."

Nystrom scored for the third straight game at 5:43 of the third, once again bringing the Flames to within a goal, but that capped the offense for the day.

"We play a lot of games, we play every two days," Calgary coach Brent Sutter said in explaining why he went with Toskala. "Your backup goaltender has got to start at some point in time. We're still going to need him down the stretch here."

Staios got the Flames on the board first with a power-play goal at 12:43 of the first period, his first goal since Jan. 16, 2009, for the Oilers against the Avalanche.

The Wild quickly answered, knotting the score 34 seconds later when Brunette beat Toskala between the pads from along the goal line. Latendresse put them ahead to stay with 42 seconds remaining in the first, notching his team-leading 26th of the season on a power play.

"We have nothing to lose, we have everything to win now," Latendresse said. "That's the way we have to see it. We know its going to be hard. It's going to be really hard to make it. But if we don't try, we're never going to know."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.

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