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Flames take slim playoff hopes to Colorado

by Deborah Francisco
FLAMES (39-29-11) AT AVALANCHE (29-40-8)


Last 10 -- Calgary 3-5-2; Colorado 3-7-0.

Season series – These Northwest division rivals have met five times this season and this will be their final meeting. Colorado won the first meeting, 6-5, but Calgary took the next four games, including a 9-1 rout of the Avalanche on Valentine's Day.

Big story – The Flames are down to the wire in their chase for a coveted Western Conference playoff spot with just three games remaining in the regular season and 89 points in 79 games played. But the slumping Avalanche has the chance to play spoiler to their Northwest division rival on Sunday.

Team Scope:

Flames – The Flames earned two points on Friday in a hard fought 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues. This victory came on the heels of a 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Mar. 30. Jarome Iginla has been the star of the show once again in Calgary as he netted his 1000th career point in the Friday night victory. Iginla is the 77th player in NHL history to reach the 1000 point milestone.

"It just makes me reminisce and how much fun it's been and how fortunate I've been to play as long as I have," Iginla said. "It just makes me think back and I definitely feel blessed and fortunate."

Alex Tanguay added a goal and two assists, and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 25 shots as Calgary remained three points behind Chicago in the race for final Western Conference playoff spot.

Avalanche – After dropping four straight Colorado snapped its recent skid with a 4-3 shootout victory against the Phoenix Coyotes thanks in large part to the individual efforts of Ryan O'Reilly.

O'Reilly scored late in the third period to force the game into overtime and he scored the lone goal in the shootout to ensure the victory for the Burgundy and Blue.

"It was a pretty good effort, probably our best effort throughout a game in a long time," center Jay McClement told the Denver Post.  "Usually lately we've had a period here and there that's been good. We've haven't put it all together. I think (Friday night) for the most part, we were pretty good."

Who's hot – Iginla has an impressive nine points (6 goals, 3 assists) in his last four games and Alex Tanguay has five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in two games.

Injury report – The Flames had center Daymond Langkow back in the lineup for the first time in more than a year on Friday. Langkow last played March 21 against Minnesota when he sustained a neck injury. The Flames are without Brendan Morrison (knee), Fredrik Modin (back), David Moss (ankle) and Niklas Hagman (concussion-like symptoms). … Colorado is without Ryan Wilson (knee), Cameron Gaunce (hand) and defensemen Adam Foote (leg) is day-to-day.

Stat pack – Iginla is one goal shy of tallying 40 goals for the third season in his career. He also boasts 10 seasons of 30 goals or more.

Puck drop – The Avalanche have been playing centers Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene on a line together in recent games -- with Duchene occupying the left wing -- but Duchene is expected to play in his natural position on Sunday.

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