After holding a comfortable lead in the Northwest Division just a few weeks ago, the Calgary Flames are now playing catch-up while also trying to avoid falling out of contention for the Western Conference’s fourth seed.
Calgary will try to snap out of its recent slump and get a rare win in Dallas on Thursday night when it visits the Stars, who are nearing elimination.
The Flames (43-27-6) are battling Vancouver for the Northwest title and the third seed in the West’s playoff race. They are now one point below the Canucks in the division standings after leading them by 10 as recently as March 6.
Calgary’s slide has also put it in danger of missing out on home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If the Flames are unable to win the division, they’ll have to finish ahead of Chicago in another tight battle for the fourth seed.
“We have to be better,” leading scorer Jarome Iginla told the Flames’ official Web site on Tuesday. “There are still six games left and lots of points on the board. We’ve got to keep working, keep trying to improve.”
Calgary, which has dropped eight of 12 and three of its last four, has struggled offensively recently. It’s scored just four goals over the last four games and is coming off a 2-1 loss to conference-leading San Jose on Monday. The Flames were 0-for-2 with a man advantage, dropping to 0-for-17 in the last four games.
Despite the loss, the Flames took away some positives. Iginla, who had been held to one goal in the previous nine games, scored his 32nd goal of the season in the first period, and Calgary outshot the Sharks 29-17.
“It’s hard to say when you lose a game that it wasn’t a bad effort, but it wasn’t a bad effort,” Iginla said. “We played physical, we really limited their scoring chances and we had a fair amount ourselves. On another night, more goes in and we get a better result.”
Calgary plays four of its next five games on the road, including a visit to Vancouver on April 7. The Flames have been shut out in their last two road games and have dropped six of seven. Michael Cammalleri, who has a team-high 36 goals, hasn’t scored in his last seven road games.
While Calgary has just two wins in its last 11 visits to Dallas, going 2-7-1 with one tie since the 2002-03 season, the Stars (34-33-10) have been struggling recently. They snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Center Brendan Morrison scored two power-play goals and Marty Turco had 26 saves for his first win since March 14 against Minnesota. He was 0-5-1 with a 3.19 goals-against average in between victories.
While the Stars will likely be missing the playoffs for the first time since 2002, Morrison—who has eight points in his last seven games—said Dallas, which is in 12th place, is refusing to give up.
“I think we pretty much have to win out if we want a chance. But who knows what can happen,” he said. “We just want to play solid hockey right until the end.”
Calgary has lost two of three to the Stars this season, including a 3-1 loss in Dallas on Feb. 3. While his team has struggled there, Iginla has a six-game point streak on the road against the Stars, recording two goals and four assists.