Minnesota (27-18-3) at Calgary (24-17-8)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Calgary, AB
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Tue Jan 22, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Minnesota Wild’s latest win gave them sole possession of first place in the crowded Northwest Division. A loss on Tuesday, though, would knock them right back out of the division lead.

The Wild try for just their second win in their last 13 visits to Calgary when they face off against the division rival Flames.

Minnesota (27-18-3) beat Vancouver 4-2 on Monday night to take over sole possession of first place in the Northwest, but the Flames (24-17-8) are just one point behind. Including the Canucks and Colorado Avalanche, four teams in the division are separated by just two points.

“At this point you’re interested in the standings, but as a fan too,” Flames wing Jarome Iginla told the team’s official Web site. “It’s not in our control though, we have our game to do our thing.”

The Wild did their part against Vancouver, avoiding a third straight loss thanks to two goals and two assists from Pierre-Marc Bouchard and 38 saves from Niklas Backstrom.

Backstrom, who led the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage as a rookie in 2006-07, has been sharing time with backup Josh Harding due to inconsistent play. Backstrom and Harding have alternated starts the last four games, but Backstrom’s effort on Monday may earn him another chance.

“Just the way he looked in the net, he looks confident,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “He looked like he’s back where he was last year.”

Minnesota has won three straight on the road, but has just one win in its last 12 trips to the Pengrowth Saddledome, going 1-9-1 with a tie in those games.

The Wild have already lost twice at Calgary this season, most recently a 3-2 defeat on Nov. 13. The Flames have won three of four overall games in the season series.

Iginla, who is third in the NHL with 32 goals and tied for second with 63 points, has at least one point in each of his last five games against Minnesota, totaling six goals and three assists over that span. His 24 career goals against the Wild are tied for his most against any opponent.

Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has also been outstanding against the Wild, with a 1.76 career GAA and a 16-5-2 record with one tie.

Kiprusoff made 37 saves and center Daymond Langkow had a hat trick as the Flames beat Los Angeles 6-1 on Friday for their second straight win.

“It was exciting,” Langkow said. “There are games where you get chance after chance and it doesn’t go in for you. Tonight was one of those nights where it was finding its way in.”

Kiprusoff, who has started 48 of Calgary’s 49 games this season - including the last 25 - had his second straight strong effort. He made 29 saves and blocked both shootout attempts in a 3-2 home win over Minnesota last Wednesday.

This is the final game before the All-Star break for the Flames, who don’t take the ice again until a Jan. 30 home game against San Jose. The Wild play at Colorado on Thursday before their break begins.

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Tuesday, Jan 22