Just over three weeks ago, the Phoenix Coyotes and Calgary Flames were vying for one of the top spots in the Western Conference. Only one can still make that claim.
The Coyotes look to build on a remarkable comeback victory and win for the fifth time in seven games Thursday night against a Flames team trying to avoid losing nine in a row for the first time in more than 24 years.
Phoenix (30-18-5) is coming off a thrilling 5-4 overtime win at Detroit on Tuesday. The Coyotes trailed 4-2 in the final minutes, but Ed Jovanovski and Keith Yandle each scored in the last 1:30 with goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov on the bench to tie it at 4. Shane Doan then scored the game winner 3:50 into overtime.
"It's a big confidence boost," said Yandle, who recorded his first career two-goal game. "We've got a great group of guys in here and we're a no-quit team when we're playing good and playing hard."
Phoenix won for the fourth time in six games and trails fourth-place Colorado by just one point.
"It's a big game for us to keep climbing in the standings and stay with teams," said Doan, who has three goals and seven assists in his last five games. "There's a lot of teams that are ahead of us in points that we've got to try to catch."
There are even more teams ahead of the Flames in the West, but there didn't use to be.
Calgary (26-20-7) was first in the Northwest Division with 55 points on Jan. 5, but it has gone 1-8-2 since to drop nine points back of first-place Vancouver. In the conference, Calgary and Detroit are tied with 59 points, but the Flames control the eighth and final playoff spot because they have one more win than the Red Wings.
The Flames, who have made five consecutive playoff appearances, have looked nothing like a playoff team lately, losing eight straight games for the first time since Dec. 22, 1998-Jan. 5, 1999. Calgary, which lost to Dallas 4-3 in a shootout Wednesday, hasn't dropped nine consecutive games since a franchise-record 11-game skid from Dec. 14, 1985-Jan. 7, 1986.
Despite losing to the Stars, the Flames managed to show some signs of life offensively after totaling two goals over their previous three games. Dion Phaneuf and Jarome Iginla scored power-play goals during a 23-second span of the first period for the Flames, who were 2 for 32 with the man advantage in their previous 11 games.
"It was a tough loss, but it's a point in the right direction," Iginla said.
Calgary hopes Iginla's goal is a sign of things to come, as the captain ended an 11-game stretch without a score. Iginla has been held without a goal in five straight games against the Coyotes after scoring six times in the previous four meetings.
The Flames and Phoenix have split two meetings this season with each team winning at home.
The Coyotes are 19-8-2 at home this season and Bryzgalov is 13-2-1 with a 2.13 goals-against average in his last 17 games in Phoenix. He was in net for both games against Calgary this season, posting a 1.52 GAA.
Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is mired in a career-worst seven-game losing streak, recording a 2.81 GAA in those contests. He also started both games in this season's series with the Coyotes, stopping 56 of 59 shots.