Wild-Flames Preview


The Calgary Flames are back home following an awful trip. The Minnesota Wild hope their road-heavy stretch of games won't end up the same way.

The Flames look to rebound from a blowout loss when they face a Wild team trying to avoid matching the second-longest road skid in club history Saturday night.

Calgary's seven-game trip got off to a promising start with victories over Vancouver and Columbus, but the team proceeded to drop five in a row. The final game of the road swing was the worst, a 9-0 defeat to Boston on Thursday that was the Flames' most lopsided since falling 10-1 to Edmonton on Nov. 26, 1996.

"It was embarrassing,'' captain Jarome Iginla said. "We got totally outworked and outcompeted. We got pushed off the puck all night and we were terrible. One of the worst games in memory.

"No excuse for the game we put on. We'd lose to every single team if we played like that."

The Flames (18-19-5) will try to regroup with four straight contests at the Scotiabank Saddledome, where they've won five in a row and gone 7-0-1 in their last eight.

Calgary hasn't won six consecutive home games since a seven-game run Dec. 23, 2008-Jan. 13, 2009. The club would appear to have a very good chance to match that streak if Iginla scores Saturday, as Calgary is 12-0 at home versus Minnesota when he records a goal.

The Flames have taken two straight meetings since a four-game skid in the series concluded with the Wild earning back-to-back shutouts at the Saddledome - the most recent a 3-0 loss Nov. 8. Iginla had the go-ahead goal along with an assist in the latest matchup, a 2-1 Calgary home win Dec. 20.

Iginla, the all-time goal scoring leader against Minnesota with 33 in 64 games, will try for a third time to notch his 500th goal. He would be the 42nd player to reach the mark and 15th with the same team.

The Wild (21-14-6) are looking for goal production from anyone as their fall from the top of the NHL continued with a 3-0 loss at Vancouver on Wednesday.

Minnesota has dropped 10 of 11, with a lack of offense playing a major part. The Wild have scored one or no goals seven times during that stretch.

They have managed four goals while losing six in a row on the road, a slide that followed a franchise-record seven-game road winning streak.

"That's somewhat of a product of how things have gone for us lately,'' said coach Mike Yeo, whose club had the league's best record in December before the slump started. "You could certainly pick up on some frustration on the bench. We're going to have to fight through this.''

They'll have to do it on the road, where the Wild play nine of their next 12. The club's last seven-game skid away from home was a franchise-record eight-game slide to open 2009-10.

Niklas Backstrom, who has allowed 10 goals while losing his last three starts away from St. Paul, got his second straight shutout at Calgary with 41 saves Nov. 8. However, he was replaced by Josh Harding in the first period of a 5-2 home loss to the Flames on Nov. 27 after allowing three goals on eight shots.

Harding started and made 28 saves Dec. 20.

The Flames' Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 29 shots in that contest after losing six of his previous seven home starts in the series. He has gone 7-0-1 with a 1.98 GAA in his last eight starts in Calgary.

Center Mikko Koivu missed the Nov. 27 game due to a leg injury, but he recorded two goals and three assists as Minnesota won in its previous three visits to the Saddledome.

Flames forward Rene Bourque will miss his second straight game against Minnesota due to a five-game suspension that ends when Calgary completes its homestand.