The Calgary Flames' offense is slumping at the wrong time, and prospects for a speedy revival wouldn't seem good against a renewed Minnesota Wild defense.
The Flames, however, have won all four matchups with the Wild this season, and will look to continue the dominance of their Northwest Division rivals on Saturday night.
In a drive for its first division title since 2005-06, Calgary (42-26-6) is trying to stay in front of Vancouver, but hasn't helped that push after failing to score in consecutive games for the first time in more than five years.
After a 2-0 loss Wednesday at Pittsburgh, the Flames endured a 5-0 defeat on Thursday in Columbus and will enter this contest on a 120:28 scoreless streak - 62:14 shy of the team record set from Nov. 5-11, 2002. Calgary, which has never suffered three straight shutouts in franchise history, hadn't been blanked in two straight contests since Nov. 4-7, 2003, with one of those losses coming to Minnesota.
Despite seven power-play opportunities and the return of Todd Bertuzzi from knee surgery, the Flames couldn't solve Blue Jackets star rookie goaltender Steve Mason, and allowed Columbus to rough them up on the ice as well. The teams combined for 124 minutes - 60 by Calgary - with 110 coming in the second period.
"We showed some elements of frustration and lack of discipline in certain areas, particularly when it wasn't going our way," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said.
Keenan's club has been outscored 41-25 in going 3-7-0 in its last 10, and the Flames could face another strong goaltender in Niklas Backstrom.
Since he was pulled from a 4-0 loss in New Jersey on March 20, the All-Star netminder has allowed four goals in his last three starts and won twice to kept his team in striking distance of its third straight playoff berth.
Backstrom is among the league leaders with a 2.36 goals-against average, but has struggled to contain the Flames in 2008-09, allowing 10 goals in three of Minnesota's losses. The Flames have outscored the Wild 12-6 this season and are 9-1-0 in the last 10 matchups.
On Saturday, they will try for their seventh straight win over the Wild at the Pengrowth Saddledome, where they have won 13 of the last 14 meetings.
Like Calgary, Minnesota (35-31-8) weathered a scrappy game on Wednesday in a 6-2 victory over the New York Islanders. The contest featured 23 penalties as the Wild broke a five-game road losing streak.
"We had to get this game no matter what and just do our job defensively and make sure that we're disciplined," said Marian Gaborik, who had two goals and two assists in his third game back after missing almost four months due to left hip surgery.
If the teams' previous meeting is an indication, this game might get chippy. In a 4-1 home win for Calgary on Feb. 27, the Wild and Flames combined for 24 penalty minutes in the third period.
After Minnesota scored four times in its previous three games, Gaborik helped the Wild match a season high for goals on Wednesday, but Miikka Kiprusoff, who is expected to start for the Flames, has allowed six goals in the four meetings this season.
Kiprusoff was pulled from Thursday's loss after giving up three goals in just over 23 minutes. He has a 3.83 GAA in his last 12 starts, but has recorded all of Calgary's 42 wins.