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Flames-Wild Preview

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GAME: Calgary Flames (37-21-8) at Minnesota Wild (31-29-7).

TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Calgary Flames season-high seven-game road trip hasn't started as well as they would have liked.

After allowing 12 goals in losing their last two games, the Northwest Division-leading Flames hope two games in three days against the struggling Minnesota Wild can get them back on track.

Calgary has won the last four games from its Northwest Division rival, outscoring the Wild 14-5 in those contests.

The Flames, though, are coming off a 9-4 loss Saturday to the Nashville Predators, their most lopsided loss of the season. Despite converting 4-of-8 power-play opportunities, backup goaltender Brian Boucher was beaten nine times on 47 shots.

"To be able to score four goals, let alone all power-play goals, should of been enough for us to win and for whatever reason we just had a complete breakdown defensively tonight," said Flames center Darren McCarty, who scored one of the power-play tallies.

Dion Phaneuf had two power-play goals, and 15 of his 17 goals this season have been with the man advantage.

The Flames are clinging to first place in the Northwest with 82 points, two more than the Colorado Avalanche, three more than the Edmonton Oilers and four more than the Vancouver Canucks.

"It's embarrassing, and we're a team that takes pride in our defense and is fighting for first place and a playoff spot," said McCarty. "To come in with a performance like that, especially after battling back and scoring late in the first and tying it up, and battling back a couple times in the second, all in all is definitely a low point in the season."

Starting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff got Saturday off after starting the first eight games after the Olympic break. He went 4-3-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average and two shutouts in those games. Kiprusoff has started all five games against Minnesota this season, and is 6-2-1 lifetime against the Wild with a 1.77 GAA and one shutout.

The Wild have been idle since a 2-1 defeat Tuesday to the Oilers, and their playoff hopes are fading fast. Minnesota is 2-4-2 since the Olympic break - scoring only 19 goals in those games - and is nine points behind Vancouver for the final playoff spot in the West.

"You never know what's going to happen," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "You've got to play until the end."

Kurtis Foster, who had the Wild's lone goal Tuesday and 10 for the season, is one shy of the single-season team record for goals by a defenseman. Nine of his goals have come at the Xcel Energy Center.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard has a goal and four assists in his last two games.

Goalie Manny Fernandez, who had 27 saves Tuesday, is 6-8-2 with a 1.97 GAA and one shutout lifetime against Calgary.

STANDINGS: Flames - 82 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Wild - 69 points, 5th place, 13 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flames - Iginla, 30 goals and 51 points; Daymond Langkow and Andrew Ference, 25 assists; McCarty, 109 PIM. Wild - Marian Gaborik, 30 goals; Brian Rolston, 42 assists and 69 points; Derek Boogaard, 146 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Flames - Power play: 18.3 percent (71 for 388), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (339 for 398), 12th. Wild - Power play: 17.6 percent (67 for 380), 16th. Penalty killing: 88.6 percent (318 for 359), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Flames - Kiprusoff (33-17-8, 8 SO, 2.18 GAA); Boucher (4-7-0, 0, 4.16). Wild - Fernandez (25-12-6, 1, 2.24);

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 4-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 14; Flames 4-1. At St. Paul, Minn., the Flames rallied to win by scoring three third-period goals on six shots.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flames - 13-14-5 on the road; Wild - 19-13-2 at home.

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