A three-game winning streak has helped the Calgary Flames move within one point of the Northwest Division-leading Minnesota Wild. Another victory could give the surging Flames sole possession of the top spot.
Calgary seeks to move past Minnesota into first place in the Northwest when the division's top teams meet on Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center.
|Miikka Kiprusoff made 38 saves in a 1-0 shutout of Detroit Friday night. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)
Alex Tanguay scored and Miikka Kiprusoff made 38 saves in his first shutout of the season and 25th of his career, lifting the Flames (32-22-8) to a 1-0 home victory over NHL-leading Detroit on Friday.
"It was a big game for our team," Kiprusoff said after the Flames won their third straight overall. "We've been playing pretty well the last few games and we have to keep going that way."
The Flames, tied with San Jose, Vancouver and Nashville for fifth in the Western Conference, are looking to be a part of the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year. They would also like to win the Northwest for the first time since 2005-06, which would give them one of the top three seeds in the West.
Kiprusoff is a big reason why Calgary can begin thinking about a potential division title.
He was back in the net after Curtis Joseph started in the Flames' victory Wednesday at Dallas. Kiprusoff, who has been rested for just three games this season, had not recorded a shutout in 64 starts since a 1-0 win over the Wild on March 27.
Kiprusoff has started all five of Calgary's game this season against Minnesota (34-22-5), going 4-1-0 with a 2.17 goals-against average. He improved to 17-5-1 with two ties, a shutout and a 1.73 GAA in 25 career starts versus Minnesota following a 2-1 home win on Jan. 22 in the most recent matchup.
The Wild hope to avoid losing four straight to the Flames for the first time since dropping five in a row from Nov. 1, 2005-March 19, 2006. Minnesota recorded its lone win of the season series 4-1 at home on Nov. 3.
Calgary has been very good on the road, winning two straight overall and three of its last four visits to Minnesota.
The Wild are 18-9-3 on home ice this season, but have lost three of their last five there. They couldn't get any of their 27 shots past Nikolai Khabibulin in a 3-0 loss at Chicago on Wednesday.
"We played hard, better than (Tuesday) night against Vancouver," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We were more intense on the puck. We just gave them two goals without any effort by them."
The Wild haven't lost more than two straight since an 0-4-1 slide from Oct. 24-Nov. 1. Leading scorer Marian Gaborik might be able to prevent another skid like that if he can continue his success against the Flames.
Gaborik has two goals and seven assists during a five-game point streak against Calgary, and has nine goals and 26 points in 34 career games against the Flames. Gaborik, the team leader with 33 goals and 63 points, has five goals and three assists in his last seven games overall.