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Wild continue playoff push against Flames

by Eric Goodman /

WILD (22-16-3) at FLAMES (16-21-4)


Last 10: Minnesota 3-6-1; Calgary 4-6-0

Season series: This is the fourth of five games between these Northwest Division clubs. The Wild hold a 2-0-1 advantage with a win each in the shootout and overtime.

Big story: The Wild have been as cold as the early April weather in Minneapolis with a 1-5-1 record over the first seven games of the month. As a result, Minnesota is locked in a battle for the final few Stanley Cup Playoff spots in the Western Conference. The Flames are starting to heat up as they try to establish a three-game winning streak while attempting to play spoiler and hanging on to their slim playoff hopes.

Team Scope:

Wild: Despite the rough patch this month, Minnesota still has a shot at catching the Vancouver Canucks for the division championship. While a 3-2 shootout loss to the visiting Blue Jackets stung a bit, the team grabbed an all-important point to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt. The Wild clearly outplayed Columbus on Saturday, holding a 41-22 shots on goal advantage, but required a late goal by Jason Pominville to force overtime. It appeared as if Minnesota was able to take advantage of nearly every Blue Jacket player on the ice, with the exception of the goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky. The Russian netminder stood tall to steal the win for his team with 39 saves.

"We did an awful lot of good things," coach Mike Yeo told "Their goalie was, obviously, extremely good."

Flames: Calgary isn't quite out of the race just yet, but it won't help matters now that one of its leading scorers, Alex Tanguay, was shelved for the season Saturday due to a Grade 2 MCL sprain. Tanguay was behind Lee Stempniak for the team lead in points, but was replaced in the lineup Saturday by the big and rugged Akim Aliu as the Flames prepared for the always physical Battle of Alberta showdown against the Edmonton Oilers. Aliu was sent down to Abbotsford of the American Hockey League on Sunday. Calgary got a great offensive effort against Edmonton as it peppered goalie Nikolai Khabibulin with 39 shots and took the game by a convincing 4-1 score.

"It was a good road win," forward Tim Jackman told following his two-assist peformance. "It's the Battle of Alberta and [the Oilers] were fighting for a playoff spot. We're playing every game as hard as we can and trying to prove to the organization that we all want to be here."

Who's hot: Pominville has two goals and two assists over his past four games for Minnesota. ... Stempniak had a four-game point streak going before failing to reach the score sheet in the Flames' win Saturday.

Injury report: Forwards Zenon Konopka (foot) and Matt Cullen (lower body) are questionable for the Wild. Forward Dany Heatley is out for the season due to a dislocated left shoulder, while goalie Josh Harding remains on injured reserve as doctors continue to search for the right combination of medication to deal with his multiple sclerosis. ... The Flames have a number of players questionable for Monday, including forwards Matt Stajan (upper body) and Brian McGrattan (shoulder) and defenseman Derek Smith (lower body). Tanguay is out for the season with the MCL sprain and forward Paul Byron is on injured reserve with a fractured hand.

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