Having lost two straight, the Flames look to keep their fading postseason hopes alive when they try for a rare road win over the Capitals on Sunday.
With an NHL-best 109 points, Washington (49-14-11) has already clinched a postseason berth, and remains in prime position to win the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time, giving the club the home-ice edge throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs and Stanley Cup finals.
The Capitals also present a daunting challenge for Calgary (37-29-9), ninth the West and struggling to put itself among the conference’s top eight teams with seven games remaining.
“We have to run the table now,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla(notes) said after a 5-0 loss at Boston on Saturday. “Other teams have done it in the past, run the table near the end. We need to put together five or six wins. It’s literally all Game 7’s for us now.”
That won’t be easy for the Flames, who are 0-4 with a tie since their last win at Washington, 5-4 on March 13, 1999.
Despite Calgary’s struggles in Washington and current playoff desperation, the Capitals aren’t taking anything for granted while trying to improve their NHL-best 27-4-4 home record.
“Right now, (the Flames are) fighting for their lives, for a playoff spot,” forward Eric Belanger(notes) told the Capitals’ official Web site. “These guys are going to come hard and give everything they have.”
Calgary didn’t seem to give much of an effort against Boston. Two days after allowing a pair of third-period goals in a 3-2 loss to the last-place New York Islanders, the Flames recorded 31 shots but were shut out for the fifth time this season.
“The biggest thing, there still has to be a belief,” coach Brent Sutter told the Flames’ official Web site. “We still feel we can get it done, but we need some personal performances to be better. You’ve gotta still feel good about yourself as individuals, and about your team. If it’s any other way, you have no chance.”
Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) could have a chance to improve Sunday if he’s back in net after making 24 saves versus Boston. He stopped 30 shots in a 2-1 win over Washington in the teams’ last meeting Oct. 21, 2008.
Iginla scored in that contest, giving him five goals and three assists in his last five games versus the Capitals.
After Semyon Varlamov(notes) suffered his fourth straight loss Thursday, Jose Theodore(notes) could start for the Capitals. Theodore has a 1.95 GAA during his seven-game winning streak, and is 5-1-0 with a 2.11 GAA in home games against the Flames.