Series (Game 5 of 6)

Minnesota leads 5-1

Game 1: Friday, December 11th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 6th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 3rd
Game 4: Sunday, March 7th
Game 5: Sunday, March 21st
Game 6: Thursday, April 8th

Flames 3

(36-27-9, 81 pts)

Wild 4

(35-31-6, 76 pts)

3:00 PM ET, March 21, 2010

Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

1 2 3 T
CGY 1 1 13
MIN 2 2 04

C. Kobasew (Wild - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

M. Koivu (Wild - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

B. Burns (Wild - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Flames-Wild Preview


Since losing to the Minnesota Wild 2 1/2 weeks ago, the Calgary Flames have made a strong push for eighth place in the Western Conference.

The Wild haven't enjoyed the same success since that victory, and have essentially fallen out of the postseason picture.

Heading into the final three weeks of the regular season, the Flames look to continue their pursuit of a playoff spot and win for the seventh time in nine games Sunday when they visit struggling Minnesota.

In both teams' first game after the Olympic break, Calgary (36-26-9) had no answer for Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom, falling 4-0 at home March 3. Although the offense looked sluggish, it's had little trouble scoring since.

The Flames have won six of eight to stay in the mix with Detroit for the West's final playoff spot, scoring at least four goals in four of those contests. They reached the four-goal mark in only four of their previous 37 games.

Calgary, which has made the playoffs each of the past five seasons, is coming off Friday's 4-3 win over Pacific Division-leading San Jose.

"We needed those points," said Flames left wing Eric Nystrom, who has scored in each of the last two games. "We still got a lot of ground to cover, but that's a huge step against a good team."

Calgary's run over the past two weeks has come against some of the league's best teams.

Besides the Sharks, the Flames have also defeated New Jersey, Detroit, Ottawa and Colorado. The only win Calgary has in the past two weeks over a team not in the playoff picture was a 5-2 victory in Minnesota on March 7. Captain Jarome Iginla, who scored his team-leading 32nd goal Friday, had a hat trick in that win to snap a four-game losing streak in the series.

The goals were Iginla's first in 11 games against the Wild, but three of his 10 career hat tricks have come versus Minnesota.

The Wild (34-31-6) moved within three points of the conference's final playoff spot with the win over the Flames on March 3, but are 3-4-2 since and trail Calgary by seven points.

Minnesota, which missed the playoffs last season after making it the previous two years, wasted a chance at two points Friday against lowly Columbus. Mikko Koivu and Chuck Kobasew each scored to give the Wild a 2-0 second-period lead, but the team surrendered three unanswered third-period goals to lose 4-2.

"It was definitely a disappointing loss," said Minnesota center Casey Wellman, who made his NHL debut. "They ended up getting a few good chances that they capitalized on."

Josh Harding finished with 28 saves Friday in losing for the third time in six starts since Backstrom injured his groin. Harding has posted a 2.00 goals-against average in those wins but has a 4.88 GAA in the losses.

Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff is 4-2-0 with a 2.45 GAA since losing to the Wild on March 3, but didn't play in the rematch four days later. He has a 3.46 GAA in losing his last four to Minnesota after posting a 1.56 GAA in winning the previous five in the series.