Calgary (25-12-5) at Minnesota (20-20-3)

Cloudy Currently: St. Paul, MN
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Wed Jan 6, 2010
  • TV: KSTC
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Backed by some outstanding goaltending, the Calgary Flames have climbed atop the Northwest Division. That doesn’t bode well for a Minnesota Wild team struggling to score.

The surging Flames look to win their sixth straight game Wednesday night when they visit the Wild, who will try to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.

Calgary (25-12-5) sat in eighth place in the Western Conference and five points back of Northwest-leading Colorado on Dec. 27, but has since won five consecutive games to take a one-point lead over the Avalanche.

The Flames beat Nashville 3-1 on Tuesday as Olli Jokinen(notes) and David Moss(notes) ended lengthy scoring droughts. Jokinen notched his eighth goal and first since Dec. 9, while Moss’ seventh goal of the season was his first since Dec. 3.

“As a group, we’re not thinking about this guy hasn’t scored,” said Flames center Daymond Langkow(notes), who added an empty netter to seal the win. “We’re just trying to play our game as a team. But yeah, it was good. Moss really goes to the net hard and having fun there for a few seconds and finally put it home. And Olli going to the net there for the rebound. Obviously big goals for us.”

The Flames have tallied a modest 14 goals in the last five games. The biggest reason for the winning streak has been strong goaltending.

Calgary, which hasn’t won six in a row since Oct. 21-Nov. 1, 2008, has allowed one goal in each game of the streak with Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) in net for four of the five contests.

Kiprusoff stopped 27 of 28 shots Tuesday, marking the 11th time in 17 starts he yielded one goal or fewer.

The Finnish Olympian was excellent in Calgary’s previous game of the season against Minnesota on Dec. 11, making a season-high 44 saves, but came up on the short end of a 2-1 overtime loss. He has dropped his last two starts against the Wild after winning 10 of his previous 11 versus them.

Minnesota, meanwhile, is having little luck finding the back of the net.

The Wild (20-20-3) lost 4-1 to Chicago on Tuesday and have scored eight goals during their four-game skid - their longest since a five-game losing streak Oct. 8-17. Guillaume Latendresse(notes) scored the lone goal for Minnesota.

Backup Josh Harding(notes) manned the net against the Blackhawks, meaning Niklas Backstrom(notes) is likely to get the start in this game.

Backstrom has allowed four goals in each of his last two starts - both losses at home - after going 7-2-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and one shutout in his previous nine outings. The struggles at the Xcel Energy Center are somewhat surprising for Backstrom, whose .716 career home winning percentage and 2.11 GAA there are the best in the league among goalies that have made at least 56 starts on home ice since the 2006-07 season, when his career began.

The Flames are familiar with how dominating Backstrom can be in Minnesota, but Kiprusoff has often outdueled him.

Backstrom has a 1.60 GAA in 10 career home starts against Calgary, but has taken the loss in five of them.

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Wednesday, Jan 6