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Kings-Flames Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Los Angeles Kings (38-29-5) at Calgary Flames (39-24-8).

TIME: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Though they could miss the playoffs altogether, the Calgary Flames also could very possibly claim the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Kings would be happy with any seed.

The Flames return home from an unsuccessful road trip to face the Kings in a matchup of teams fighting to make the postseason.

Calgary went 2-4-1 on its season-high seven-game trip, capped by 3-2 losses in Columbus on Friday and at Dallas on Sunday.

"We wanted to put a good string together," Flames leading scorer Jarome Iginla said. "We didn't do that. Now it's about winning the next game. It's crunch time. A lot of teams are desperate. This will be a dogfight."

While battling Colorado, Vancouver and Edmonton for the Northwest Division crown - and likely the third seed in the West playoffs - the Flames also are only two points ahead of the eighth and final postseason spot in the conference.

Los Angeles is three points behind the No. 8 spot, standing 10th overall and with virtually no chance to catch Dallas for the Pacific Division crown.

The Kings, looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001-02, have split two games since interim coach John Torchetti took over last week after Andy Murray was fired.

Two days after beating Nashville 6-4 in Torchetti's debut, Los Angeles led by one goal midway through the second period against Vancouver on Monday only to lose 7-4.

Mark Parrish scored twice in a 2:04 span early in the second for a 3-2 lead, but the Kings gave up three goals in the final 6 minutes of the period.

"We played a solid 14 minutes but the bottom line is you got to play 60 minutes, it's a playoff atmosphere and we've got to do a better job," Torchetti said. "We've got to play a lot better defensively in our own end."

Los Angeles has given up 31 goals in its last seven games, losing five, while Calgary has allowed more than three goals only once in its last 22 contests.

One factor in the Flames' favor down the stretch is they play seven of their final 11 games at home, including five of the next six. Calgary's 10 home losses this season are the fourth-fewest in the NHL.

"We're playing for first place in the division and we're fighting for a playoff spot," Flames forward Stephane Yelle said. "This home stretch is going to be key for us."

STANDINGS: Kings - 81 points, 4th place, 18 PB, Pacific Division. Flames - 86 points, 2nd place, 2PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Parrish, 28 goals; Lubomir Visnovsky, 47 assists and 64 points; Sean Avery, 244 PIM. Flames - Iginla, 31 goals and 56 points; Daymond Langkow, 27 assists; Darren McCarty, 111 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Kings - Power play: 15.2 percent (73 for 480), 27th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.6 percent (342 for 435), 28th. Flames - Power play: 18.6 percent (78 for 419), 9th. Penalty killing: 83.6 percent (368 for 440), 13th.

GOALTENDERS: Kings - Mathieu Garon (29-21-3, 2 SO, 3.23 GAA); Jason LaBarbera (9-8-2, 3.22). Flames - Miikka Kiprusoff (35-20-8, 8, 2.20); Brian Boucher (4-7-0, 4.16).


LAST MEETING: Dec. 21; Kings, 5-2. At Calgary, Mike Cammalleri scored twice and Jeff Giuliano scored his first NHL goal, which came during Los Angeles' four-goal third period and was the game-winner.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 15-17-4 on the road; Flames - 24-7-3 at home.

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