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Wild-Flames Preview

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Wild-Flames Preview

GAME: Minnesota Wild (17-16-4) at Calgary Flames (21-12-4).

TIME: Thursday, 9 p.m. EST.

The Calgary Flames are looking to regain their momentum after a poor performance in their last game as they host the Minnesota Wild.

Instead of taking advantage of two straight road victories over the Vancouver Canucks, the Flames squandered a two-goal lead in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Nashville.

"I think we ran out of gas. It was like a road game for us," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said.

Tuesday marked the third time in the last 11 games that Calgary blew a two-goal lead and ended up with a loss.

"It's happened too often. It's a terrible feeling," forward Shean Donovan said. "We're a good team and we'll rectify it, but it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth right now."

Left wing Kristian Huselius scored one of the Flames' three goals Tuesday, giving him three goals in his last four games. Huselius has 12 points in 10 games since joining Calgary in a trade with Florida.

Minnesota completed a two-game sweep at Edmonton with a 4-1 victory Wednesday.

Marian Gaborik scored twice for the Wild, winners of five of their last six games.

A big reason for the team's surge of late has been the play of goaltender Manny Fernandez, who stopped 28 shots to win his third straight decision and fourth in five games.

"This is the lineup that is going to get us into the playoffs," Fernandez said. "I think we are frustrating other teams."

Minnesota has won three of its last four road games.

"We're making our breaks now," said Brian Rolston, who added a power-play goal Wednesday. "When we are all on the same page, we can play with anybody."

STANDINGS (through Dec. 28): Wild - 38 points, 5th place, 9 PB, Northwest Division. Flames - 46 points, 2nd place (tied), 1 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Rolston, 17 goals and 36 points; Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 20 assists; Derek Boogaard, 64 PIM. Flames - Jarome Iginla, 15 goals and 30 points; Iginla and Andrew Ference, 15 assists; Jason Wiemer, 65 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 28): Wild - Power play: 19 percent (39 for 205), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 90.2 percent (183 for 203), 1st. Flames - Power play: 16.8 percent (38 for 226), 16th. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (189 for 230), tied for 14th.

GOALTENDERS: Wild - Fernandez (13-5-3, 1 SO, 2.01 GAA); Dwayne Roloson (4-11-1, 1, 2.67). Flames - Miikka Kiprusoff (18-10-4, 5, 2.27); Philippe Sauve (3-2-0, 2.62).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 14; Flames, 3-2. At Calgary, Alberta, Iginla scored the game-winner, and assisted on third-period goals by Dion Phaneuf and Daymond Langkow as the Flames battled back from a 2-0 deficit.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 7-10-3 on the road; Flames - 12-4-2 at home.


Associated Press
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