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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 17th (All times eastern)

Minnesota Wild (41-24-7) at Calgary Flames (37-24-10), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Calgary Flames will try to avoid falling further behind in the Northwest Division race when the slumping squad takes on the red-hot Minnesota Wild in a key showdown tonight from the Pengrowth Saddledome.

With losses in four of its last five games, Calgary has dropped six points behind first-place Vancouver and five behind the runner-up Wild in the Northwest standings. Minnesota, on the other hand, has ripped off five consecutive victories and is right on the heels of the Canucks in the battle for the division's top spot.

The Wild have drawn closer by earning road wins over Vancouver and fellow Northwest foe Edmonton over the last week. In the most recent outing, goaltender Niklas Backstrom stopped 22-of-23 shots to lead Minnesota to a 2-1 decision over the sinking Oilers.

Mark Parrish and Marian Gaborik had the goals for the Wild, who are on their longest win streak since beginning this 2006-07 season with six straight triumphs.

With the win, Minnesota improved to 14-3-2 in road games since January 11. The Wild own an 18-18-3 mark as the visitor for the season.

Following tonight's encounter, the Wild begin a five-game homestand Tuesday against Phoenix.

Calgary suffered its second loss in a row with Thursday's 4-2 setback at Dallas. Alex Tanguay had a goal and an assist on the evening, while Matthew Lombardi accounted for the Flames' other score.

Despite its recent slide, Calgary still holds down the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Flames have 84 points and are eight in front of ninth-place Colorado entering today's games.

Calgary boasts an NHL-best 28-6-2 season mark as the host and has won five of its last six games at the Saddledome. The Flames have also dominated the Wild at home as of late, as Minnesota has winless (8 losses, 1 tie) in its last nine visits to Calgary.

The home team has won 11 of the last 13 games in this series, including each of the last seven meetings.

03/17 10:59:37 ET


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