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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, March 31st (All times eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (47-24-6) at Calgary Flames (38-29-9), 9:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Flames know they need to have a sense of urgency if they are to reach the postseason. They certainly showed that in their last trip to the ice.

Calgary will look for a similar effort this evening when they host one of the NHL's hottest teams, the Phoenix Coyotes, at Pengrowth Saddledome.

The Flames seemed down and out after back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins to begin a three-game road trip. Calgary was outscored 8-2 in those games.

However, the club came out on fire Sunday versus Washington, getting first- period goals from Ian White, Jay Bouwmeester, Niklas Hagman and Alex Kotalik in a 5-3 victory over the league's leader in points.

"It was a solid game from the entire team," said Rene Bourque, who had a goal and two assists. "We came out with a big effort and we played the way we're supposed to. We have to keep up this intensity for the rest of the year."

White also finished with an assist and Bouwmeester notched his third goal of the season. The defenseman had posted 15 goals in each of the previous two seasons.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 31 stops in the win.

Calgary, which is 4-5-0 over its last nine games, is four points back of Colorado for the eighth and final playoff spot with six games to play. The Avalanche, who host the Ducks tonight, have seven games remaining.

The Coyotes suffered just their second regulation loss in their last 11 games last night, falling to 8-2-1 after a 4-1 setback in Vancouver. All three of those losses have come on the road.

Radim Vrbata scored the Coyotes' goal and Ilya Bryzgalov gave up four goals on 29 shots faced. He struggled early, giving up a pair of tallies in the game's first 4:08.

"He's saved us so many nights and been so good for us, we wished we could have helped him out," Coyotes forward Shane Doan said of his netminder.

The loss kept the Coyotes four points behind the Sharks for the lead in both the Western Conference and Pacific Division with five games remaining. San Jose has six contests left on its schedule and visits Dallas tonight.

Bryzgalov has started all three of Phoenix's games versus Calgary this year, going 2-1-0 with a 1.63 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. It is unknown if he will start on back-to-back nights, or if the Coyotes will go with backup Jason LaBarbera, who is 2-4-0 with a 3.23 GAA versus Calgary lifetime.

Kiprusoff hasn't been the problem for Calgary versus Phoenix this year, as he has posted a 1.63 GAA and .944 save percentage in the three matchups this season. That includes a 3-2 shootout loss at Phoenix in the last matchup on Jan. 28.

The Coyotes have won four of their last six versus the Flames overall and three of their last five trips to Pengrowth Saddledome.

03/31 10:46:16 ET


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