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Phoenix Coyotes vs. Calgary Flames

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GAME: Phoenix Coyotes (20-25-15-4) at Calgary Flames (31-24-5-3).

TIME: Sunday, 8 p.m. EST.

The struggling Calgary Flames look to get back on track and improve their positioning in the crowded Western Conference playoff picture when they host the last-place Phoenix Coyotes.

The Flames, looking to make the postseason for the first time since 1995-96, lost 2-1 at home to Detroit on Thursday night, dropping them to 1-4 since a three-game winning streak.

Calgary has a good chance to finish as high as fifth in the conference, but is locked in an extremely tight battle with Dallas, Nashville, Los Angeles and St. Louis for the final four West playoff berths.

Pavel Datsyuk set up both Detroit goals Thursday, including Steve Thomas' winner late in the second period. Chuck Kobasew scored for the Flames, whose main problem of late has been lack of offense. Calgary has managed just six goals in the last five games.

"We have to bear down and play our game like we did in the third period for the full 60 minutes," Flames rookie Matthew Lombardi said. "We have to come out stronger knowing that every game is a playoff game for us."

The Flames will continue to count on solid goaltending as they look to get back in the win column Sunday. Miikka Kiprusoff made 20 saves against the Wings, and has allowed two or fewer goals in 21 of his 23 starts.

Newly acquired left wing Ville Nieminen made his debut for Calgary on a line with center Dean McAmmond and right wing Shean Donovan.

The Flames will be facing the sinking Coyotes, who are coming in off yet another lopsided loss, 7-2 on Friday to Edmonton. Phoenix allowed Edmonton to set a franchise record with five goals in a span of 5:38 in falling to 0-2-1-1 in its last four.

Jeff Taffe and Jan Hrdina scored for the Coyotes, winless in two games under interim coach Rick Bowness. Phoenix, which has won just twice in its last 14 outings (2-10-2-2), has allowed 20 goals in its last four games.

"After their third goal it really killed us," Taffe said. "It got a bad bounce, kinda flattened and went through (Brian Boucher's) five-hole. It's kind of the bounces we've been getting lately."

Boucher, who stopped 14 of the 18 shots he faced before being pulled in the second period, fell to 3-10-4 since his NHL-record streak of five straight shutouts ended Jan. 11.

STANDINGS: Coyotes - 59 points, 5th place, 20 PB, Pacific Division. Flames - 70 points, 3rd place, 11 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Coyotes - Ladislav Nagy, 24 goals; Shane Doan, 40 assists and 61 points; Andrei Nazarov, 118 PIM. Flames - Jarome Iginla, 30 goals and 55 points; Iginla and Craig Conroy, 25 assists; Krzysztof Oliwa, 190 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 27): Coyotes - Power play: 15.0 percent (43 for 287), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (264 for 321), 23rd. Flames - Power play: 15.7 percent (44 for 280), 18th. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (220 for 260), 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Coyotes - Boucher (9-13-8, 5 SO, 2.62 GAA); Jean-Marc Pelletier (1-0-0, 4.14). Flames - Kiprusoff (15-6-2, 2, 1.51); Roman Turek (4-9-0, 1, 2.73).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 27; Flames, 2-1. At Phoenix, Donovan scored on a penalty shot with 2:08 remaining for Calgary, and the Flames held the Coyotes to a season-low 12 shots on goal.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Coyotes - 10-11-10-1 on the road; Flames - 16-12-4-1 at home.


Associated Press
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