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Flames 4, Wild 1

The SportsXchange

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Calgary Flames are out of the playoff picture, but their late-season surge continued on Sunday in a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

It was the fifth win in the past six games for Calgary, which seems to be enjoying playing spoiler. Mike Cammalleri, Mikael Backlund, Jiri Hudler and Mark Cundari scored for the Flames, who were playing with many new faces in the lineup. Goalie Joey MacDonald had 34 saves in the win.

Zach Parise had the only goal for the Wild, who are still solidly in the playoff picture, but fell to 0-4-1 in their last five home games. Minnesota has three games remaining and needs to win at least two of them to clinch its first playoff berth since 2008.

Calgary struck first, getting on the board via an unlikely source. Cundari, playing in his first NHL game, scored on his first NHL shot, snapping off a rising wrist shot that caught the upper right corner of the net. Cundari came to the Flames' organization on April 1 in the trade that sent Jay Bouwmeester to St. Louis.

Minnesota tied the game when Parise took a pass from linemate Charlie Coyle and got free in front of the Calgary net, sliding a low shot around MacDonald, who had sprawled out in an unsuccessful effort to stop the puck. It was the team-leading 17th goal of the season for Parise.

The Wild dominated long stretches of the second period, outshooting the Flames by a margin of better than 2-to-1 through 40 minutes, but found themselves trailing again after the Flames cashed in on one rush to the Minnesota crease. Lee Stempniak barreled to the front of the Wild goal, only to be stopped by Niklas Backstrom, but Minnesota could not clear the puck before Backlund tapped in a loose puck for a 2-1 Flames lead through two periods.

Cammalleri added a third period power play goal, and Hudler scored into an empty net for Calgary.

Backstrom finished with 19 saves for the Wild, who host the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Calgary, which finishes the season with four in a row on the road, travels to Nashville for a Tuesday game with the Predators.

NOTES: Flames rookie winger Ben Hanowski played his first professional game in his home state on Sunday. Hanowski signed with Calgary nine days ago, shortly after his collegiate season with St. Cloud (Minn.) State ended when the Huskies lost in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals in Pittsburgh. Hanowski was originally drafted by the Penguins but his rights were shipped to the Flames in the Jarome Iginla trade. Hanowski is Minnesota's all-time leading high school scorer. ... Baltimore Ravens starting center Matt Birk, who retired after winning the Super Bowl, received a rousing ovation when he was introduced before the game. Birk, who grew up in St. Paul, spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. ... Wild defenseman Ryan Suter was on the ice for nearly half of the first period (9:06) which is typical for him this season. Suter entered the game leading the NHL in time on the ice per game with more than 27 minutes of ice time per game on average, and has logged 30 minutes or more seven times.
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