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Flames try to stay hot as they visit Phoenix

by John Kreiser
FLAMES (36-24-9) at COYOTES (34-23-11)

TV -- SNET-West (HD)

Last 10 -- Calgary 7-2-1; Phoenix 4-4-2

Season series -- It's the third of four meetings between the Western Conference rivals, who conclude the season series in Calgary on Tuesday. The teams played their other two games five days apart in November, with the Coyotes winning 5-4 at home and 3-1 in Calgary.

Big story -- The Flames, 14th in the West two months ago, continue to climb. Wednesday's 4-3 shootout win at Dallas lifted them into fifth place with 81 points. The Coyotes continue to have their ups and downs -- Saturday's emotional 5-4 comeback win against Detroit was following by a disappointing 4-3 OT loss to Vancouver in a game that saw Phoenix blow a 2-0 lead.

Team Scope:

Flames -- It looked like the Flames were going to blow out the Stars when Rene Bourque, Tom Kostopoulos and Anton Babchuk scored to put them ahead 3-0 less than 15 minutes into the game. But Dallas scored once in each period to get even before shootout goals from Alex Tanguay and Curtis Glencross gave Calgary the extra point.

"The end result was what we wanted," coach Brent Sutter said. "We had a good start to the game, got off our game in the second. They kept coming and didn't quit."

Coyotes -- The Coyotes looked to be assured of a playoff berth in mid-February after winning eight in a row. But the postseason is anything but certain following a slide that has seen them drop six of seven games, though they've managed single points in two of them.

"We had a good, strong effort," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of the OT loss to the Canucks, the top team in the overall standings. "The effort was there. You know, there's a couple mistakes made here but there was no lack of effort whatsoever. That's a game we just had to compete hard in. We had everyone trying their hardest and we found a way to get a point. It's disappointing we didn't get two."

Who's hot -- Flames captain Jarome Iginla has 5 goals in his last five games. … Phoenix captain Shane Doan has 5 points in his last five.

Injury report -- Calgary is without center Brendan Morrison (knee). … Phoenix is missing defensemen Derek Morris (lower body) and Ed Jovanovski (facial fractures), as well as forwards Ray Whitney and Martin Hanzal (lower body). Defenseman Rostislav Hanzal took a puck in the face on Tuesday and did not return.

Stat pack -- The Coyotes are tops in the West and tied with Atlanta for the NHL lead with 11 losses in games decided after regulation. They lost only six such games all last season. …

Puck drop -- The Flames have helped themselves by going 8-6 in shootouts, but games like Wednesday's could come back to haunt them because the first tiebreaker among teams that finish with the same number of points is non-shootout wins. The Flames have only 28 -- the fewest among the top 10 teams in the West.

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