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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, March 9th (All times eastern)

Calgary Flames (35-24-9) at Dallas Stars (36-23-7), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - An important test in the Western Conference playoff race is on tap tonight in Dallas, as the Stars welcome the Calgary Flames for a battle at American Airlines Center.

With 79 points apiece, the Stars, Flames and Phoenix are currently tied for fifth in the crowded Western Conference. The clubs are just one point behind Chicago for the fourth seed, but are also just two points ahead of Los Angeles and Minnesota.

The Stars enter tonight riding a six-game point streak (5-0-1) and are expected to get leading scorer Brad Richards back in the lineup tonight.

Richards has missed the last 10 games with a concussion, but Dallas head coach Marc Crawford has announced that the centerman is scheduled to play tonight for the first time since suffering the injury on Feb. 13. Despite his recent absence, the 30-year-old Richards is still leading Dallas with 63 points this season.

Like Dallas, Calgary has won its last two games and the Flames have a 4-1-1 record over their last six outings.

The Flames have also won all three meetings with the Stars this year and can complete a season series sweep tonight. Calgary has taken six of nine overall in the series and has won three of the last four encounters in Dallas.

Calgary's most recent outing ended with the Flames claiming a 3-2 regulation win over the visiting Nashville Predators on Sunday. Curtis Glencross scored the go- ahead goal midway through the third period to lift the Flames.

Jarome Iginla and Mark Giordano also scored for Calgary, while Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 21-of-23 shots in the win.

Iginla's goal came on a penalty shot in the second period and tied the game at 2-2.

"It's a penalty shot goal that was huge in a 2-1 hockey game and he capitalized on it, and we continued to gain momentum off that," Flames coach Brent Sutter said of Iginla.

It was also Iginla's 30th tally of the year, allowing him to reach that mark for the 10th consecutive season. He is just the 10th player in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in 10 straight seasons.

Calgary has not fared well on the road this season, posting a 14-14-5 record as the guest, but the Flames have won five of their last seven away tilts.

The Stars, meanwhile, are beginning a seven-game homestand tonight and they will try to build on a 18-9-5 home record during the stay.

Dallas recently went 3-0-1 on a four-game road trip and capped that swing with Monday's thrilling victory over Los Angeles. Brenden Morrow scored 38 seconds into overtime to cap the Stars' 4-3 comeback win at the Staples Center.

Jamie Benn had a short-handed goal to tie the game early in the third, while Mike Ribeiro and Trevor Daley also lit the lamp for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen made 20 saves to earn the win.

In addition to the expected return of Richards, the Stars could also have defenseman Nicklas Grossman back tonight after he sat out the last 10 games with a hip problem.

03/09 13:20:38 ET

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