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Flames-Stars Preview

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GAME: Calgary Flames (39-23-8) at Dallas Stars (47-20-3).

TIME: Sunday, 3 p.m. EST.

The Calgary Flames could close what has been a fairly poor road trip, their longest of the season, on a positive note if they can cool off the Dallas Stars in a meeting of first-place clubs.

The Flames remain atop the Northwest Division despite going 2-3-1 on this seven-game trip. They could not beat one of the Western Conference's worst teams in their most recent game, and now have to face one of the best in this visit to Dallas.

The Stars have a big lead in the Pacific Division and trail only Detroit in the West standings. They enter this matchup having won nine of 11.

Calgary had enough trouble on Friday with lowly Columbus, which had lost five straight before defeating the Flames 3-2 when Jason Chimera beat goalie Miikka Kiprusoff with 2:47 to play.

"It was a pretty physical game and they probably had the edge there," Calgary's Jarome Iginla said. "In a one-goal game, they had the edge. They got the big goal late. It doesn't feel good on our part, that's for sure."

Iginla, the Flames' leading scorer this season, has scored only once during the trip, and that's his only goal in the last 12 road games. He has one goal in his last 16 games against the Stars.

Kiprusoff, who leads the league with a career-high eight shutouts, has not given up more than three goals in 25 consecutive starts. His career-best 35 wins this season includes his first in seven starts against the Stars, a 39-save performance in a 1-0 win on March 9 in the most recent meeting.

Calgary, though, has lost three straight in Dallas and has not won in five games there since Dec. 14, 2001.

To end that drought, the Flames might want to avoid ending up in a shootout. The Stars improved to 11-0 in shootouts this season with a 3-2 victory over Chicago on Friday.

Brenden Morrow scored in the eighth round to give Dallas the win after goalie Johan Hedberg kept Chicago out of the net in seven consecutive rounds.

"That was fun for the fans, but not fun for the coach," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "We were almost done with the forwards and getting down to the defensemen so it's a good thing Brenden scored. Hedberg gave us a chance tonight and played very well, but we better get refocused here very quickly and get ready to compete at a much higher level."

It was the first start in three weeks for Hedberg, who likely will give way to starter Marty Turco for this matchup.

Turco leads the NHL with 37 wins and will break his career high, set last season, with a victory Sunday. He has won eight of his last 10 starts with a 1.98 goals-against average in that span.

The five-year veteran has an 8-3-2 career record and a 1.61 GAA against Calgary.

STANDINGS: Flames - 86 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Stars - 97 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 31 goals and 55 points; Daymond Langkow, 27 assists; Darren McCarty, 111 PIM. Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 31 goals; Sergei Zubov, 51 assists; Mike Modano, 69 points; Morrow, 162 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Flames - Power play: 18.6 percent (76 for 408), 10th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (361 for 432), 12th. Stars - Power play: 17.1 percent (74 for 432), 20th. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (355 for 424), 10th.

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Kiprusoff (35-19-8, 8 SO, 2.18 GAA); Brian Boucher (4-7-0, 4.16). Stars - Turco (37-17-3, 3, 2.52); Hedberg (10-3-0, 2.67).

SEASON SERIES: Stars, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: March 9; Flames, 1-0. At Calgary, Alberta, Langkow's first-period goal held up and the Flames killed off seven Dallas power plays.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 15-16-5 on the road; Stars - 24-11-1 at home.

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