NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 28th (All times eastern)
Minnesota Wild (35-31-8) at Calgary Flames (42-26-6), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Flames' inability to score over their last two games has them in danger of falling out of first place in the Northwest Division. Calgary will try to snap its scoreless drought tonight against a rejuvenated Marian Gaborik and the Minnesota Wild at Pengrowth Saddledome.
Loses in seven of the Flames' last 10 games has caused their lead over second- place Vancouver to shrink to just one point. While defense was the problem early on the stretch, Calgary's offense has now gone cold. The club hasn't tallied a goal since Monday's 5-3 win over Detroit, an empty-net tally by Craig Conroy with 28 seconds remaining.
The Flames have been shutout in back-to-back games since, dropping a 2-0 decision to Pittsburgh on Wednesday one day before a 5-0 loss in Columbus.
Miikka Kiprusoff surrendered three goals on 17 shots for Calgary before being replaced by Curtis McElhinney in the early stages of the second period. McElhinney turned aside 17-of-19 shots over the remainder of the contest.
The Flames have now been blanked three times this season, but prior to the whitewashing by the Penguins on Wednesday, Calgary hadn't been shutout since its first game of the season on October 9.
Calgary now returns home, where it is 24-9-4 this year and has won four of its last six contests.
While the Flames have had trouble scoring goals, a healthy Gaborik has had no trouble finding the scoresheet as of late. The pending free agent had two goals and two assists in Wednesday's 6-2 victory over the New York Islanders, giving him five points in three games since returning from hip surgery.
Gaborik had a career year last season with 42 goals, 41 assists and 83 points, but has been limited to just nine games this campaign due to injury. His return has helped offset the loss of Mikko Koivu, who suffered a knee injury last Sunday that was expected to hold him out of action for at least a week. The Minnesota captain leads the Wild with 44 assists and 62 points this year.
Antti Miettinen, Owen Nolan, Martin Skoula, and Andrew Brunette also scored for the Wild. Nolan and Brunette added two helpers each and Niklas Backstrom stopped 32 shots.
The Wild, who have just three wins over their last nine games, are currently two points out of a playoff spot with eight games to play.
Minnesota has now split the first two games of a four-game road trip that ends in Edmonton on Sunday. The Wild had lost five straight as the guest before Wednesday's win and are 15-20-2 on the road this year.
The Wild will now try to halt a six-game skid in Calgary, where they haven't won since March 17, 2007. Minnesota has lost all four meetings with the Flames this year (0-2-2) and has just one win in their last 14 trips to Calgary.
03/28 10:51:18 ET