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Red Wings continue playoff chase against Flames

by Tal Pinchevsky

RED WINGS (20-15-7) at FLAMES (16-22-4)


Last 10: Detroit 4-4-2; Calgary 3-7-0

Season series: This is the third and final meeting this season between these teams. The Calgary Flames won the previous two, including a 5-2 win at the Scotiabank Saddledome on March 13. These clubs split the four games they played last season.

Big story: The Flames are all but eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention, but the Detroit Red Wings are fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. If they miss the playoffs, it will be the first time they've done so since the 1989-90 season.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Three straight Detroit losses last week, coupled with hot streaks from the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars, suddenly placed the Red Wings outside of the top eight in the West. After being a League powerhouse for roughly two decades, this Red Wings team would have to battle to qualify for the postseason.

The mission to do that started in Nashville on Sunday for the second contest in a four-game road swing that started Friday with a 3-2 shootout loss in Chicago. Against the Predators, Detroit started out on its heels, allowing 13 Nashville shots in a fast-paced first period. Goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped all of them, giving Detroit a chance to open the scoring in the second when Henrik Zetterberg beat Pekka Rinne, giving recent college free-agent signee and Detroit native Danny DeKeyser his first NHL point.

Detroit controlled the game through much of the second and third periods, outshooting Nashville 23-9. Johan Franzen ultimately put the game away when he doubled the Detroit lead with 2:59 remaining in regulation. Justin Abdelkader sealed the 3-0 win with an empty-net goal less than two minutes later.

"We control our own destiny," Howard said. "It's upon us and the dressing room to get the job done. I think a lot of people would be happy to see us miss the playoffs. We have to go out there and play with the same sense of urgency when we get out to Calgary."

Flames: Calgary effectively ended its season by dealing captain Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Trade Deadline. The Flames lost five straight games immediately after trading the longtime face of their franchise, but won three of their next four before hosting the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

Despite outshooting the Wild 11-6 in the opening period, it was Minnesota who struck early, as Mikko Koivu opened the scoring just 2:17 into the contest. In a second period dominated by Minnesota, Jason Pominville doubled the Wild advantage midway through with a wrist shot that beat Joey MacDonald.

Jiri Hudler halved the Minnesota lead early in the third, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard responded just 11 seconds later. The scoring opened up from there in a period that saw both teams combine for five goals on 18 shots. One of those goals belonged to Ben Hanowski, a Minnesota native who was involved in the Iginla trade and was making his NHL debut. Sven Baertschi scored with 40 seconds remaining in regulation to cut the Minnesota lead to 4-3, but the Flames would get no closer.

Who's hot: For Detroit, Zetterberg has six points in his past six games while Franzen has scored in each of his past two games. Pavel Datsyuk has five points in his past five games. … Flames defenseman Mark Giordano has five points in his past six games while Hudler has three points in his current three-game point streak.

Injury report: Red Wings forwards Darren Helm (back), Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (upper body) are all out. … Flames wing Alex Tanguay is out for the remainder of the season with a knee sprain while forwards Matt Stajan (upper body) and Brian McGrattan (shoulder) and defenseman Derek Smith (lower body) are questionable.

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