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Flames-Wild Preview

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Flames-Wild Preview

GAME: Calgary Flames (25-14-5) at Minnesota Wild (20-19-4).

TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.

If the Calgary Flames want to remain in contention for the Northwest Division crown, they'll have to improve their play on the road.

Calgary tries to salvage the final game of a four-game road trip when it faces the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Flames, who entered the road trip with four straight wins to complete a 4-1-0 homestand, have scored just seven goals in the three road losses to start the trip.

Calgary has fared well against the Wild this season, winning the last three at home to improve to 3-1-0. The Flames opened the season Oct. 5 with a 6-3 road loss to Minnesota.

In a 3-2 loss Thursday to the New York Islanders, Darren McCarty and Jarome Iginla scored first-period goals, but the Flames were shut down from there by goaltender Rick DiPietro, who made 19 of his 28 saves in the final two periods in coach Brad Shaw's debut.

"We knew they'd be fired up," Iginla said. "We've all gone through something like this during our careers when there's a shakeup or a tough change, and you band together and get fired up. They battled and competed and found a way to get that third goal that we didn't get."

Iginla, the team's leading scorer with 18 goals and 34 points this season, has 13 goals and 24 points in 25 career games against the Wild.

Minnesota is 1-2-0 on a brutal seven-game homestand. In Monday's 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, Randy Robitaille scored his 10th goal of the season to give the Wild the lead in the first, but Stars backup goaltender Johan Hedberg was stellar in winning his sixth straight decision.

Manny Fernandez had 24 saves for Minnesota, but saw his winning streak snapped at six. Fernandez allowed Philippe Boucher's game-winning goal at 11:24 of the second after the defenseman's shot deflected off the end boards and hit Fernandez in the back before going in.

"I think our boards are finally the worst in the league," Fernandez said. "They're getting there, at least. It's just amazing. At least six shots like that. They seriously have to take a look at them. It's getting ridiculous."

Fernandez is 6-7-0 with two ties and a 1.90 goals-against average against the Flames in his career.

STANDINGS: Flames - 55 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Wild - 44 points, 5th place, 11 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 18 goals and 34 points; Andrew Ference, 18 assists; McCarty, 69 PIM. Wild - Brian Rolston, 18 goals, 25 assists and 43 points; Derek Boogaard, 70 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Flames - Power play: 17.1 percent (45 for 263), 17th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (222 for 272), 17th (tied). Wild - Power play: 18.1 percent (43 for 238), 12th. Penalty killing: 89 percent (210 for 236), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Miikka Kiprusoff (22-12-5, 6 SO, 2.35 GAA); Philippe Sauve (3-2-0, 2.62). Wild - Fernandez (15-6-3, 1, 1.98); Dwayne Roloson (5-13-1, 1, 2.83).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 3-1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 29; Flames, 4-2. At Calgary, Alberta, Kiprusoff made 32 saves, and Steven Reinprecht and Jason Wiemer scored in the third period to break a 2-2 tie.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 9-10-3 on the road; Wild - 12-8-1 at home.


Associated Press
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