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28-23-11

Flyers-Flames Preview

AP - Sports

Three weeks ago, the Philadelphia Flyers were tied for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They could leave the ice Saturday night second-from-the-bottom of the East playoff picture.

The Calgary Flames are just happy to be back in the postseason hunt but want to avoid falling into a deeper slump as they host a Flyers team coming off a bad loss.

As of Feb. 3, Philadelphia was within three points of the conference-leading New York Rangers along with Boston. Seven losses in the next 10 games have dropped the Flyers to fifth place, and a regulation defeat Saturday would put them alone in seventh if Ottawa wins and Pittsburgh picks up a point earlier in the day.

The latest defeat was particularly crushing, falling 2-0 on Thursday to an Edmonton team which has the league's second-worst record.

"You'd like to think this serves as a wake-up call because we're in a playoff race," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Tonight is unacceptable."

Philadelphia (33-20-7) was shut out for the second time in February - it was blanked twice through the first four months of the season. The Oilers hadn't shut out an opponent since Nov. 3.

"This is crunch time. Even when you are playing a team that's near the bottom of the Western Conference, there are no easy games," winger Scott Hartnell said.

Calgary (28-23-10) had been among the West's worst teams most of the season but has improved in recent weeks to climb into a tight battle for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Flames have picked up at least a point in nine of 10 games.

However, they enter Saturday having lost the first two contests of a four-game homestand. After falling 6-1 to Edmonton on Tuesday, Calgary scored the tying goal with 1:46 left in regulation against Phoenix on Thursday before losing 4-3 in a shootout.

"It's unfortunate we've hit a little bit of a speed bump," captain Jarome Iginla said. "We got ourselves back in the race. Our mindset is let's make sure that we don't all of a sudden change our game and change the things we've been improving on. We've got to get back playing and enjoy this good challenge ahead of us."

Iginla assisted on Olli Jokinen's tying goal - the Flames' first power-play tally in seven games - and now looks to avoid going without a goal for a season high-tying fourth straight game. He hasn't scored one in any of his last five matchups with the Flyers.

These teams haven't met since Calgary's 3-2 shootout win at Philadelphia on Nov. 26, 2010. Miikka Kiprusoff had 34 saves and is 4-2-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average versus the Flyers.

Philadelphia has won three straight and seven of nine in Calgary.

Ilya Bryzgalov won his last six starts versus the Flames while with Phoenix, posting a 1.81 GAA. He played well Thursday, making 28 saves, after giving up seven goals on 39 shots in his previous two starts.

The Flyers have given up 13 power-play goals during their 3-6-1 stretch. They've allowed four in their opponents' five chances during the first half of a four-game road trip, which ends Tuesday in San Jose.

Jaromir Jagr, who scored in overtime of a 5-4 win at Winnipeg on Tuesday, has 1,641 points and is one shy of breaking a tie with Joe Sakic for eighth place all-time.

Teammate Danny Briere has gone 15 games without a goal, his longest drought since his first full season in 1998-99.

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