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Wild chasing Northwest title, playoffs facing Flames

by Tal Pinchevsky

FLAMES (18-22-4) at WILD (24-17-3)


Last 10: Calgary 5-5-0, Minnesota 3-6-1

Season series: This is the fifth and final matchup between these Northwest Division rivals. Minnesota has won three of the previous four, including a 2-1 overtime victory in the other game played at Xcel Energy Center.

Big story: Minnesota is battling for its first Stanley Cup Playoff berth since 2008 and held a four-point lead over the ninth-place Detroit Red Wings and 10th-place Dallas Stars heading into Saturday.

Team Scope:

Flames: A 5-13-0 stretch in March and April, highlighted by a trade that sent captain Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins, dampened any hopes of Calgary's first playoff appearance since 2009. But the Flames' play has picked up since that difficult run and they have won four of their past five, the only loss coming against the Wild last Monday.

After topping a desperate Red Wings team at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday night, Calgary wrapped up a 2-1-0 homestand with an impressive victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 32 of Anaheim's 33 shots in what many believe will be his last home game with the Flames.

"If you look at some other Canadian cities, it can be tough times for goalies," Kiprusoff said. "The crowd can be tough on them, but I've been lucky. I have the feeling always they're behind me, and that's huge for the goalie."

Wild: On March 31, Minnesota sat first in the Northwest Division and appeared well on its way to punching a ticket to the postseason. But the Wild have gone 3-6-1 since, losing their spot atop the division and seeing their hold on a playoff spot become more tenuous.

They opened a three-game western road swing with victories over Calgary and the Edmonton Oilers, but came falling back to earth Thursday at the San Jose Sharks. Former Wild player Martin Havlat scored twice in a 6-1 Minnesota loss.

Who's hot: Flames forward Mike Cammalleri has three points in his past two games. Rookie forward Sven Baertschi has five points in a four-game point streak. … Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard has three goals in a four-game point streak. Forward Jason Pominville has nine points in eight games since coming to Minnesota from the Buffalo Sabres at the NHL Trade Deadline.

Injury report: Flames forwards Steve Begin (hand) and Curtis Glencross (knee) and defenseman Derek Smith (lower body) are questionable. Defenseman Dennis Wideman (finger) and forward Alex Tanguay (knee) are out. … Wild forwards Zenon Konopka (foot) and Michael Rupp (lower body) are questionable. Forward Dany Heatley (shoulder) and goaltender Josh Harding (illness) will not play.

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